Crowds have been thronging Pudhu Mandapam over the last few days and the traders and tailors who have shops there are more than pleased. “It is only during the ‘Chithirai’ festival that we get to see so many people. Business is dull during the rest of the year,” said T.C. Vijayan, who has a shop selling pooja articles.

Ahead of the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Celestial wedding on May 10, shops like his have a steady stream of customers who come to buy the ‘sacred thread’ worn by married women.

“Women buy the thread in bulk as it is a custom to distribute it to other married women after the Celestial wedding takes place in the temple. Most women purchase anywhere between 10 to 100 threads for the same,” Mr. Vijayan stated on Monday.

“There are 25 such shops selling the sacred thread here and these are the only shops where customers have been buying them for generations,” he said.

While the Chithirai Festival of the Lord Kallazhagar Temple in Alagarkoil begins on May 10, the tailors at ‘Pudhu Mandapam’ are busy stitching colourful dress to be worn by devotees who spray water on Lord Azhagar when taken to the Vaigai. Dresses for devotees who accompany Lord Azhagar dressed as ‘Karuppansamy’ and ‘Theepandhams’ are also being readied.

“Accompanying Lord Azhagar is a momentous occasion for us and we have been coming here for the past 13 years to buy the special dress,” said G. Gurunathan, a resident of Oomachikulam, who will accompany the procession of Lord Azhagar from Tallakulam to Ramarayar Mandapam.

The tailors working at ‘Pudhumandapam’ say that though people buy the dress only once in three to four years, they get a minimum of 30 customers every year. The special dresses which cost anywhere between Rs.500 to Rs.950, can be made of a variety of materials, which include satin, velvet and cotton with additional appliqué and embroidery work.

“Sales will really pick up once the flag is hoisted on May 10 at Kallazhagar temple. We sstitch the dresses three months before the festival since they need intricate work and customers who come from other districts for the festival have already begun to purchase from us,” said S. Karthikeyan, a tailor.

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