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Sri Madurai Meenakshi Amman

Once Indra killed a demon, even though the demon did not harm anyone. This act brought a curse upon Indra that forced him to continue wandering until he was walking around looking for a way where no one would tell him which way to go will redeem him from his sin. After much wandering Indra was freed from his suffering through the power of a Shivalingam in a forest, and so he built a small temple at that site.

It so happened that at that time in South India there was a Pandyan king called Malayadhwaja Pandiyan ruling a small city by the name Manavur, which was quite near to this Shivalinga. He was the son of Kulashekara Pandyan. He came to know about the Shivalinga and decided to build a huge temple for Shiva in the forest Kadambavanam (vanam means forest). He also developed the region into a fine princely state called Madurai.

The king was childless and sought an heir for the kingdom. Shiva granted him his prayers through an Ayonija child (one born not from the womb). This child was three years old and actually the incarnation of goddess Parvati the wife of Shiva. She was born with three breasts and fish-shaped eyes. It was said that the extra breast would disappear when she met her future husband. She was named Meenatchi, (meaning fish eyed) from the words mīna (meaning fish) and akṣi (meaning eyes).

Shiva the Natarajan performing the Universal danceShe grew up to be a Shiva-Shakti personification. After the death of the king, she ruled the kingdom with skillful administration.

In one of her expeditions she went to the Himalaya mountains and there, on seeing Shiva, her extra breast disappeared. Many of the gods and goddesses came to witness their marriage.

Gopuram of Minakshi temple at MaduraiAt the wedding celebrations the gods refused to have the served food unless Shiva performed a majestic dance for everybody gathered at the place. At this there was the dance of Chidambaram, the cosmic dance in front of his wife Minakshi. It epitomised and merged all life force and beauty into one whole. In the end Minakshi was merged with the shivalingam and became the representation of life and beauty.

There is another legend that talks about why the North Tower (called as "Mottai Gopuram") does not have that many sculptures. Bhootaganas were supposed to finish the construction of the temple towers during the night. Legend says that bhootaganas completed all three towers but while in the middle of building the north tower sunrise happened halting the completion of the north tower.