Mariamman- The goddess of rain. The South Indian Hindu goddess of Tamil origin who plays an irreplaceable role in worship for about 2000 years. She is the principal god of all the rural village areas where no village would be found without Mariamman temple.
The term Mari in sangam Tamil means Rain or change and Amman means Mother. Hence she is regarded as the goddess who brings rain and removes drought and poverty by providing prosperity.
She is also known with the name MuthuMari where,Muthu means pearl and Maari means rain inorder to describe the raindrops as pearls The name Muthu Maariamman is used as a poetic metaphor for rain.It is believed that the pearl like rain will cure the pearl like boils that occurs when one suffers from Chickenpox.
HISTORY OF GODDESS MARIAMMAN:
The first story is a part of Mahabharata prediction, where Mariamman is considered to have been originated as a form of Draupadi (wife of pancha pandavas) who is known as the incarnation of goddess Kali and this is not known to anybody other than Lord Krishna. She suppressed all her super powers within and lived as a normal woman of human race. But after pandavas sleep during the night time she wanders around the villages of vanniyar accept their offering and plays the role of protecting those villages.
The next story explains about the beautiful and high morale lady Nagavalli (wife of the sage PIROHU, one among 9 rishis). It is believed that once the Timurti gods came in disguised in order to test her beauty and loyalty when the rishi was away. Under such circumstances Nagavaali turned them into children without knowing the truth and as a result the Timurti got angry and cursed her with smallpox which faded her beauty. After returning the rishi drove her away for the change and was named “Mari” believing she would belong to a demon family. Later after realising the truth he convinced her in the next generation and gave the blessings that she would be worshipped as a goddess who cures this disease among the human creatures.
DISTINCT EXISTENCE OF GODDESS MARIAMMAN:
Under the study of religion, The goddess Mariamman is described as that she was already there before the village was created and it is she who formed the village. She is symbolised as the main head of the soil representing that the village is her body and she is the seed root in the village’s soil and upon her body is where the villagers are residing. She tends to protect the village and its boundaries and not beyond the border. If a village is a cosmos and the centre power will be the goddess. Thus building a bond of relationship between the village and the divine mother.
Mariamman is the Tamil mother goddess of all rural areas of TamilNadu and it is said that this origin is during the pre vedic period of India. During post vedic period she is considered as an association of Parvati, kaali and Durga.
She is an incarnation of Hindu goddess Parvati and Durga. Mariamman is famous in south Indian states where in North India is worshipped in the form of Shitala Devi with same characteristics and in Eastern India as Manasa. In Puranas she is known as Marika.
The villagers worship her as a pure form of Mother who protects them from all evils.In some villages Mariamman is worshipped as Kaval deivam and known by locals as Grama Devathas. She also stands as family deity for some.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GODDESS MARIAMMAN:
- Goddess mariamman is portrayed as a beautiful young woman with reddish yellow hued face complexion and wears red coloured dress
- She is shown either as standing or in sitting position over a Lalitasana throne and kirtimukha mask by one cobra coiling her and a 5 headed cobra arising over her crown.
- She has got many arms holding powerful weapons along with sword,damaru, trident (trishul),kapala(bow) and abhaya mudra.
- She can be portrayed either in a pleasant way or terrifying way with fangs and wild flying hair.
TRAITS OF MARIAMMAN TEMPLE SHRINE:
- The village traits of the goddess mariamman shrine are more and less similar in structure and possess a democratic worship.
- The priest to these temples need not necessarily be a brahmin whereas a non brahmin priest is also allowed to do puja even at some places women priestess is also available.
- The statue is made up of granite stone or mud as per their priority and tradition in a sharp sphere top.
- Flower garland and lime garland used for decoration with holy ash, chandan and kumkum.
- Majority of this temple contains an anthill in which a cobra is believed to be living as a resemblance of the goddess to which milk and eggs are offered.
The festivals are celebrated to please the goddess Mariamman for sufficient rain for their location inorder to cultivate crops in a fertile way.
It takes place during the tamil month of panguni to puratasi for about 11 days.
- The head of the villages held a meeting discussion and fixed a date for the commencement of the festival.
- This begins with collecting of 9 grain seeds from every house called Thandal during the time of valarpirai.
- The pari paraputhal process is done followed by mulaikottu.
- Then the grains are distributed to every house of the village where each house should have at least 2 paris.
- The people plant them in a clay pot mixed with mud and goat dung along with hay and placed in a dark isolated room for its good growth.
- After it is fully grown, on 9th day of thandal it is taken to the temple by everyone playing a folk song and dance called mari paatu and mulaikottu (kummi dance).
- Later karagam was taken from the village water body by the people who fasted for 10 days(called Ammadi) and finally they are submerged into the village river or pond etc.,
- During the tamil month of Aadi(april,may) Kambam festival is celebrated in various villages according to their tradition as it is the hottest month(agni natchathiram) they pray for making the place cool with rain.
OFFERING FOR GODDESS MARIAMMAN:
- The main offerings are pongal and koozh which are the predominant things in the majority of the temple.
- Porridge prayer is the mandatory offering for goddess mariamman.
- Boiled rice, fruits, flowers, cakes, sugar, incense, camphor,milk, cured, tender coconut water,honey,abhishekam etc., is also offered.
- At some places other foodstuffs will also be offered depending on the people and their culture tradition which is followed from their olden ancient days.
RITUALS FOR GODDESS MARIAMMAN:
Different varieties of rituals are practised and followed by the people of various places by wearing red or yellow coloured dress. Some of the common rituals that takes place are as follows,
- Fire walking.
- Piercing tongue, nose, mouth and in other parts of the body.
- Fasting and shaving heads.
- Carrying pot of holy water on head.
- Carrying amman karagam
- Carrying mulaipari and maavilakku
- Holding a burning pot of charcoal fire.
- Non-agamic rituals
- Walking on nail shoe
- Both symbolic and animal sacrifice
BENEFITS OF WORSHIPPING GODDESS MARIAMMAN:
Being the goddess of medicine, it is believed that the goddess mariamman help in curing all the heat based diseases like chickenpox, smallpox, rashes, measles, cholera, plaque etc
She is also regarded as the fertility goddess who blesses the family welfare, health, long span of life, welfare of spouse, marriage to unmarried, child to childless couple and overall wealth to the family.
MARIAMMAN GAYATRI MANTRA:
“Ohm pisaasathvajaaya vidhmahe,
katka hasthaya theemahi
Thanno maari prachodayath”