Pongal (mid-Jan). One of the most colourful and important Tamil festivals, celebrating the harvest, when thresholds are decorated with beautiful designs.
Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana (Jan). A five-day celebration of Carnatic classical music at Thiruvaiyaru, near Thanjavur, in honour of the great Carnatic composer-saint.
Teppam Floating Festival (Jan/Feb). Worshippers take boats to the shrine in the middle of the great bathing tank in Madurai.
Mamallapuram Dance Festival (Jan–Feb). Month-long classical dance performances against the wonderful backdrop of Arjuna’s Penance.
Natyanjali Dance Festival (Feb/March). Five-day dance festival at the great temple in Chidambaram, with occasional offshoots in Kumbakonam and Thanjavur.
Chithirai (April/May). Maybe the most important Madurai festival, celebrating the marriage of the principal deities of the great Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar Temple.
King Rajaraja’s birthday (Oct). Vibrant ten-day affair when Thanjavur’s magnificent Brihadishwarar temple is decked out fully to celebrate its creator’s birthday.
Kartigai Deepam (Nov/Dec). Statewide extension of Diwali, especially lively in Tiruvannamalai, where pilgrims circumambulate Arunachala.
Chennai festival season (Dec–Feb). A series of Indian classical concerts and dance performances takes place at various venues throughout the city.