Location: Virudunagar District, Tamil Nadu
Famous For: Matches, Fire Works And Printing Industries
Named After: The Shivalinga Brought From Kasi
Also Known As: Mini Japan
Sivakasi is a first grade municipal town in Tamil Nadu, located 74-km south of Madurai. It is a part of Virudunagar district. Sivakasi is a famous industrial town in South India honoured as "Mini Japan" by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. This small town is also popular for its ancient worshipping places.
Sivakasi - A Town Of Three Industries: Sivakasi may be called as "A town of three industries", namely Matches, Fire works and Printing. Sivakasi is known for its fireworks manufacturing reputation and offset printing machines of which it has the second largest number in the world, next to Guthenburg, a city in German. It is one of the highest excise duties, sales tax paying industrial town in India.
There are more than 1,500 match industries either of small or medium or large-scale units. Out of the total requirement of matches and fireworks in India Sivakasi meets about 85-90% of production. Most of the manufacturing units are in small scale and cottage industries. In and around Sivakasi there are 1434 match works and 291 fires works industries. Around 373 Printing presses are located in and around Sivakasi. Thousands of workers are getting direct and indirect employment through this industry.
The History Of Sivakasi: Sivakasi has a history of more than 600 years. Its story starts from the 14th century.
Legend Regarding How Sivakasi Came To Be Called So: When Hindus just hear the very name ‘Kasi’; it evokes religious sentiments with them. Kasi is a place where every devout Hindu is expected to visit once in his lifetime. Apart from that there are two other Kasi's in Tamil Nadu -Tenkasi (meaning the Southern Kaasi) located near Courtallam, close to Kerala and Sivakasi (Kassi of Siva) located at South of Madurai.
It is interesting to note how Sivakasi came to be called so. The king, Ankesari Parakrama Pandyan ruled the southern region of Madurai, with his capital at Tenkasi. He wished to establish a Shiva temple at Tenkasi and he had planned to visit Kasi Varanasi to worship Lord Shiva there and bring a Linga from there.
While returning to his place with the prized Linga a few miles past Madurai, he took rest under a groove of Vilva trees. When the king woke up to continue his journey after his overnight halt, the cow that carried the Shivalinga, being brought from Varanasi, refused to move from there, for all coaxing and coercing.
Moreover, the princess attained puberty that night which prohibited the carrying of the Linga. As events thus overtook auspicious time for the already proposed plan of consecrating the Linga at Tenkasi, the king reverentially placed the Linga in the place where he had halted and proceeded to Tenkasi. The place, which was sanctified by the Shivalinga brought from Kasi, henceforth came to be called "Sivakasi".
Later on King Pandia and King Thirumalai Naicker did a lot for this temple and named it "Kasi Viswanatha Swami " Temple. The period of construction was between 15th and 16th century. Aanaiappa Gnani reconstructed this temple. Under the rule of King Naickers, the temple was developed more. In 1659, Muthu Veerappa Naicker constructed the Ratham (the chariot).
Kasi Viswanatha Swami Temple: Kasi Viswanatha Swami Temple is an ancient temple in Sivakasi. The presiding deity is Kasi Viswanatha Swami or Kashi Vishwanath Swami (Lord Shiva) and the Goddess worshipped here is Visalatchi Ambal.
Festival Celebrated At Kasi Viswanatha Swami Temple: "Powrami Puja" is held on every full moon day. "Prathosam" is very popular among the people of Sivakasi. On that day many people come to worship the God. "Karthikai Thiruvizha" is celebrated in "Aadi Karthigai and Thai Karthigai" days. "108 Changabishegam" is held on every last Monday of Tamil month to Sri Kasi Viswanathar and on every last Friday of Tamil month to Sri Vishalatchi Ambal. "Thanga Kavasam Satruthal" is held in the beginning of every Tamil month, every Pradthosam, on Shivaratri and on other festival days
Sri Mariamman Kovil: Sri Mariamman Kovil is another famous temple in Sivakasi. Sri Mariamman is the Goddess of the temple. "Kumbabhishekam" for this temple was held on 21-1-1983. "Kumbabhishekam" for the "Gopuram" of this temple was held on 6-2-1984. There is a beautiful Silver Ratham in the temple.
Sri Pathira Kaliamman Temple: Sri Pathira Kaliamman Temple is a very famous temple in Sivakasi. Sri Pathira Kaliamman is the Goddess of this temple. "Kumbabhishekam" for this temple was held on 11-06-1987. "Kumbabhishekam" for the "Raja Gopuram" (Main Tower) was held on 7-7-1995. Raja Gopuram has the length of 66 feets, width of 44 feets and the height of 110 feets of 7 stages. The base was constructed by stone, for 30 feets with 100 sculptures in 6 years. 80 feets of 7 stages was constructed with 30 architects within a period of 1½ year.
It owns the biggest tower of all the Amman temples in India. Powrnami Puja is celebrated grandly on the full moon day. Large numbers of people come to worship the Goddess. There is a very beautiful garden in this temple, and it impresses the visitors to a greater extent.
Badrakaliamman Temple: The magnificent tower of Sri Badrakaliamman Temple in Sivakasi has a glittering gold Kalasam that attract all newcomers. The temple itself is an expression of self-assertion by members of Nadar Community who were ill treated earlier. A separate committee called "Devasthanam Committee" was constituted to look after the routine affairs, like conducting daily pujas and sponsoring festivals. This temple has been periodically renovated since 1983-84. The Rajagopuram was constructed within the period of 8 years and is believed to be the tallest of all kali temple towers in the state.
There are three sections among Christians, which are Roman Catholics, Protestants and Pentagosthe and all the three groups have very old churches at Sivakasi.
Our Lady of Lord's Church: Roman Catholics constructed "Our Lady of Lord's Church" on 1953 by Father Balaiya S.J. The area of the church is 60 cents of which 800 persons can pray at a time. This church is constructed in Portuguese style. About 11 Churches around Sivakasi are attached with it. The Church concentrates on making humanization through education, also works for the eradication of Child Labour.
Rockland Church: Protestants constructed "Rockland Church". Mr. E.H.M. Waller started the work on 29-6-1917 and it took 8½ years to finish. In 29-12-1925 Thiru Packenham Walsh inaugurated the church.
Ayyanar Falls: Ayyanar falls are located at a distance of about 40- km from Sivakasi town. It is a suitable place for enjoying the holidays, with a temple and small waterfalls.
Sastha Falls: Located at a distance of 27-km from Rajapalayam and 12-km from Devadanam is the Sastha falls, a picnic spot with good cool water streams, waterfalls and several smooth rock slopes for playful sliding. Elephants, Spotted Deers, Wild Buffaloes can be spotted here.
Sanjeev Hills: At a distance of 3-km from Rajapalayam on the way to chatrapatti are the Sanjeev Hills. In the epic Ramayana, in order to save the unconscious Lakshman, Hanuman brought the entire Sanjeev Hill with the herbal plants to Sri Lanka and after wards through it away .It is said that this is the hill that was thrown away.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is located at Madurai, which is about 76-km from the city.
Rail: Sivakasi Railway station is an important station in the Southern Railway due to the movement of Industrial products.
Road: Sivakasi is well connected by road with the major towns and cities within and beyond the state. For local transportation taxis and auto rickshaws are available.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Hindu Celebrations: Panguni and Chithirai Pongal festivals are grandly celebrated in Sivakasi for the Goddess Sri Mariamman and Sri Pathirakaliamman respectively. It usually comes in the month of April and May respectively.
Pongal festival is celebrated for 10 days from the day of Kodiyettram. On the 7th day the "Ratha Urchavam" (Therottam) is held. The people through four "Ratha Veethies" drag the Ratham and when it reaches the destination it is celebrated as the last day of Pongal celebrations. In Chithirai Pongal festival, the 5th and 6th days are celebrated very grandly.
Thiruvathirai Festival is famous in Sivakasi. In this festival four Rathams from 4 temples are decorated beautifully with "Sevanthi Flowers". Large numbers of people visit Sivakasi during this festival to worship the Gods.
Christian Celebrations: Roman Catholics celebrate "Our Lady Festival" on February 11. They decorate the god in a ratham and it goes through the main streets of Sivakasi. Protestants celebrate "Ikkya Virunthu" as local festival of their church.
Muslim Celebrations: Muslims celebrate "Chandana Koodu Festival" as local festival in their Dhargas.