Bhagwan Shiv and Bhagwathi Parvathi are the Prakriti and the Purusha of the Universe and the entire Universe is born out of their cosmic union. This cosmic togetherness is depicted very beautifully in the temple of Madurai as the divine marriage of Meenakshi ( the fish eyed bride) and Sundareswar( the most handsome groom), thus making them the most attractive couple of the world.
The story of their marriage dates back when the Pandyan King Malayadhwaja performed a Yagn for begetting a son. But, when the Ygna was completed, a girl with three breasts rose from the sacrificial fire. When the king consulted his astrologers, they told him that the girl was an incarnation of Bhagwathi Parvathi and her third breast would disappear when she would meet her husband. Looking at the beauty of his little child, the king named her Meenakshi. Meenakshi not only grew to be a beautiful maiden, but she adapted herself to all the skills of war andcame to be known as the warrior princess of the Pandyan kingdom.
After she inherited her father’s kingdom, Meenakshi led an expedition of war and won over all the regions and reached the Himalayas. There she challenged the Devas for war.. But the Devas were unable to match her power and they sought help from to Bhagwan Shiv to defend their forces. Bhagwan Shiv agreed to their request and came to the battlefield. When they confronted each other, Meenakshi’s third breast disappeared and thus she knew that Bhagwan Shiv was the chosen one for her. When she proposed marriage to him, Bhagwan Shiv who was already charmed be her beauty happily agreed.
However Meenakshi requested Bhagwan Shiv to shed his regular attire of the tiger skin, skulls and ash and instead come decked in a beautiful way as a groom. Bhagwan Shiv asked her to return to Madurai and wait for him for eight days. On the eighth day, decked in golden robes, jewels, he came as Sundareswar, the most handsome one. Bhagwan Vishnu as the brother of Bhagawathi Parvathi did the ritual of Kanyadaan and Brahma Ji took care of all the marriage festivities.
A temple was built at this place where this sacred marriage of the most beautiful couple took place and was named as the Meenakshi Amman temple. This temple received the greatest contributions from the Pandyan kings lineage and is known for its exclusive sculptures and colours it radiates in the themes. There is a thousand pillared dancing hall in the temple which is famous as the Rajat Sabha of Dance, where Bhagwan Shiv dances with his right foot raised, instead of the left.
The temple is a huge square complex with fourteen gopurams, unending corridors, a huge Pushkarin with lotuses. An entire hall in the temple is sculpted with parrots as the parrot was the favourite bird of Bhagwathi Meenakshi and it always perched on her shoulder. The sons of the divine couple Ganesha and Karitkeya too have shrines dedicated to them in the temple complex.
The Meenakshi temple is the special place wherein one sees Bhagwan Shiv in a different role as a family man, with his consort and sons together, unlike the regular wanderer with ash and matted hair. While Bhagwathi Meenakshi still is considered the ruler of the land, Sundareswar is the ideal family man and blesses all devotees to prosper with health , happiness and prosperity.