On the eve of Meenakshi Sundareswarar ‘Thirukalyanam’ (celestial wedding), the campus of Setupati Higher Secondary School is a hub of activity. While more than five hundred women are busy chopping vegetables in the school’s main hall , there are volunteers wheeling huge vessels of chopped vegetables and ingredients such as rice and pulses towards a kitchen set up in the school grounds.
The wedding feast, organised by Pazhamudirsolai Thiru Murugan Bhaktha Sabhai for the last 15 years, is expected to serve more than 75,000 devotees after the Thirukalyanam on Thursday.
The women who have assembled to help state that it is an ‘honour’ of sorts for them to contribute towards the preparation of the wedding feast.
“We have been chopping beetroots from 3.30 p.m. The celestial wedding is like an event at our homes and so we volunteer to help for preparing the feast,” said neighbours R. Vijayalakshmi and K.A. Malathy from Tirunagar.
Many of the women have come in groups to chop vegetables and say that year after year, it has become a community activity for them to meet and interact with other devotees.
“We came as a group of ten women and have finished chopping 200 kilos of potatoes in the last two hours,” said G. Archana from Villapuram, who also said that it was the first time she was volunteering.
P. Rani, who had come from Chennai to see the Chithirai festival said that she had been cutting vegetables for the last three years before the feast.
“The best of the city is seen during the Chithirai festival and everyone is happy to help,” she said.
.N. Vivekanandan, one of the organisers said that for the Mappilai Azhaippu Virundhu on Wednesday night, Pongal, Vadai and Kesari was served. “Through generous donations coupled with the help of over 1,000 volunteers, we hope to enable people to enjoy the feast,” he said.
The Meenakshi Temple authorities have also set up a donation counter at Setupati School which will enable devotees who make a beeline from the temple to the feast venue, to make their donations in denominations of Rs. 50 and Rs. 100 there.