The folks of Madurai are genuinely traditional and they adhere to their customs and values very strictly. People believe in hard work and simplicity and they dwell hand in hand in unity and harmony with one another. Madurai natives are extremely friendly and hospitable. They wear their traditional attire i.e. Sari and Dhavani. The chief religion of the civilians of this city is Hinduism. Yet, people following other religious faiths like Christianity, Jainism, Islam, etc. too reside here concurrently.
Tamil, the state language is the widely spoken language of Madurai. Tamil is spoken in its pure and original form here. Other than Tamil, other languages like Saurashtra, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu, Kannada, Hindi and English are also spoken here. Special Madurai cuisine includes Paruthi Paal, Panangkarkandu Paal, Pongal, Jigarthanda, Chettinadu, Kuzhi Paniyaram, Appam, Kotthu Parotta, and all other South Indian food items like Idly, Sambhar, Medu Vada, Dosa, etc.
Madurai is a well known textile industry and it is renowned in every corner for its Cotton, Batik, Silk, Sungundi, Sirai, Maravuri and Naarmadi fabrics. Medium weight fine cotton saris with Zari and fabric paintings and Gold-borders are popularly known as Sungundi saris that sing the sagas of Madurai from pole to pole.
Major medium of entertainment for the people of Madurai is cinemas. Madurai boasts of its rich cultural and historical endowment which is represented by old folklores, folk dance, dramas, village ballads, songs, religious festivals and rituals. Madurai metalwork, pottery, wood and stones carvings, carpets, leather goods, and patch work are appreciated world wide.
The culmination of cultural legacy of Madurai can be witnessed in the festivals celebrated with absolute gusto and enthusiasm every year. The major festivals celebrated in Madurai include Pongal, Jallikattu, Chithirai, Festival of the Cradle, Avanimoolam Festival, Float Festival, Dance Festival etc.
Pongal, a three days harvest festival is celebrated in the gratitude and thankfulness towards the Lord Sun, the nature and the cattle who helped the husbandmen in yielding a good crop and made them prosperous. On the first day of Pongal, i.e. Bhogi, the houses are cleaned and decorated. Second day is the main Pongal day when the celebrations are arranged. A sweet named ‘Pongal’, made from rice and Sugarcanes and are eaten. Sugarcanes are even used for decorations. On the third day known as Mattu Pongal, the cattle are worshipped and they are not made to work on that day.
Jallikattu is a sport organized mostly in the villages as a part of Pongal celebration. This is a game of courage, strength and valor where the participant has to tame a wild bull.
Chithirai Festival, celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Chithirai of Tamil Calendar (April or May) is a ten days festival. This festival is celebrated to mark the auspicious event of the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarer. A gold idol of Lord Azaghar (Sundareswarer), seated on a horse, is carried out in a procession from Azaghar Koil to Madurai. This symbolizes Lord Sundareswarer’s wedding procession when he went to Madurai to get married to Meenakshi.
Festival of the Cradle - In this celebration, Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundarewarer are taken to a mirror chamber in a procession after their wedding and placed there in a cradle for 9 days.
Avanimoolam Festival this festival celebrated at the Sundareswarer Temple in the months of August or September marks the coronation of Lord Sundareswarer. At this time a play called ‘Lila’ is performed in which the stories of 64 miracles of Lord Shiva are recited.
Float Festival is an ancient festival dated back to 17th century celebrated on the fool moon day of the month of ‘Thai’ according to Tamil calendar (Mid January – Mid February). First celebrated by King Thirumalai Nayak, this festival involves a boat ride to the Lord Vigneswara on the birthday of the king Thirumalai Nayak.
Dance Festival A 15 days dance festival is organized by Tamil Nadu Tourism Department. Dancers from all over India take part in it and present various dance forms.