Killai is a village in Tamil Nadu, India. It is situated near the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It does not have any major temple of its own, but it is the place where deities from several major temples are brought for the celebration of Masi Magha.
Masi Magha is a very important festival in the Hindu calendar and it is celebrated when the full moon is transiting the nakshatra Magha, which is one of the nakshatras that constitute the constellation Simha or Leo. In our time this happens in February-March, but for some time in the Vedic period the full Moon in Magha nakshatra marked the winter-solstice. This is around 4500 years ago. It is celebrated by taking the deities of temples to the sea-shore, or, when too far inland, to a nearby river or pond. Different mythologies are connected to this festival in different temples. A recurring theme is the amrita, the nectar of immortality.
Several deities used to come to Killai for this occasion in the form of the utsava-murti or festival form. It was a very important festival celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm. It still is in many places, for instance in Pondicherry . But it has been almost completely abandoned in Killai and the pavillions are very delapidated, because of lack of resources. Only two very important deities, Shiva Nataraja (the Dancing Shiva) from Chidambaram and Bhuvaraha (Vishnu) of Srimushnam are still brought to Killai for this festival.
In the calendar of Chidambaram the Masi Magha festival was a great event. The festival lasted 27 days and is described in the Chidambaram Mahatmyam. A grand pavilion was constructed for the performance of the rituals. The temple is some 12 kilometres away.
Also the Vishnu of Srimushnam, Bhuvaraha (Vishnu who saves Bhumi Devi, or Earth, from the clutches of a demon), is brought ceremoniously from Shrimushnam to Killai for the celebration of Masi Magha. Bhuvaraha also has his own pavilion. Srimushnam is some 40 kilometers from Killai.
Although the festival is still celebrated for these two deities, it is in a much reduced form due to lack of resources and interest. The pavilions have a very dilapidated look. And the pavilions of several other deities who used to come here for Masi Magha have not been used for many years and have been build-in by other structures.
The mythology of the temples tells us once Killai was situated on the sea shore. Now the sea is several kilometres away to the East.