Maasi is the month (Feb-March) when the days are turning warmer after the pleasant cold weather of Margazhi and Thai. In temples all over Tamil Nadu, Maasi Magam is a special day when the deities are given a holy ritualistic bath.In the temple of Lord Ardhanareeswara on Tiruchengode hill, this ritual is called the Maha-abhishekam, the ultimate abhishekam.
On Saturday, 11th March, 2017, our group of six members joined hundreds of participants of the maasi magam vizha as they congregated in the ancient Badrakali amman temple in Tiruchengode town. It is customary to begin the procession after prayers are offered to goddess Badrakali. The participants then walked along the very narrow and winding lanes of this historic town to the main ther veethi.
At seven in the morning it was a scene of ethereal beauty as saffron clad devotees walked in silence, all bearing decorated pots of offerings of their choice for the abishekam. Folk dancers representing Siva and Parvati led the way. At the main ther veedhi, the procession stopped briefly for a dance recital accompanied by music, and beautifully rendered by the folk dancers. As police-men made way for early morning traffic the procession moved slowly along the four ther veethis (chariot streets).
The participants then went to the malai kovi (hill temple) of lord Ardhanareeswara for the maha-abhishekam.
After darshan of Lord Ardhanareeswara, everyone waited for the abishekam to begin. This was no ordinary abishekam and the offering-pots contained a wide, interesting variety of sacred things. At the auspicious time the abishekam was first performed in the main sanctums of Senkotuvelavar(Murugan) and Ardhanareeswara. The beautiful utsava deities of Ardhanareeswara and Sengotuvelar were brought to the maha mandapam and placed on the central stone platform so that the rituals could be clearly viewed from all sides.The Maha abishekam commenced after the abishekam in the main shrines were completed.
A unique sight and an experience to cherish!
An awesome 1500 pots of milk, endless pots of vibhuti,honey,sandal-paste,,grapes,choppedbananas,sugarcanejuice,riceflour,panchamitham,turmeric,kalkandu(sugarcandy),panangarkandu-candy made from palm-sugar and pomegranatepearls were poured on the deities. Most of the offerings were collected and given back to the devotees as prasadam.
Faith And Blessing
Everyone present that day must have felt as I did, a divine peace and blessing fill the heart as the abishekam progressed. Seeing the abishekam was a purification of hearts and minds and this cleansing deep inside gave strength of a divine kind, the courage to face the world with all its imperfections and trials. The divine blessing is a balm, a gentle reminder that on this hard journey of life God makes his presence felt in many, many ways.
Pictures from the Masi Abishekam
Read more posts on Maasi Magam and Ardhanareeshwarar Temple by clicking on the links below
In anticipation of this year’s Maasi Magamfestival, Tiruchengode town and Sri Ardhanareeswarar templewear a festive look, this being the most important festival of this temple town. Hundreds of devotees take a vow of austerities by wearing the holy maala for a prescribed number of days. Life becomes focused on only one thing and that is Lord Ardhanareeshwara, the divine Father and Mother of the universe.
For me, it is always a pleasure to visit the temple and taking the vow is just another excuse to visit Ardhanareeswara, Ammaiyappan.
This year, our small group went to the temple to commence the viraddam by wearing the maala blessed and given by the Sivachariya in front of lord Ardhanareeswara. It was a subh muhurtham day with dozens of marriages taking place in every available corner of the maha mandapam in the temple. Ardhanareeswara temple is the temple for marriages because unity of husband and wife is what lord Ardhanareeshwara is all about. Mango leaf thorans were strung everywhere between the ornate pillars and many homa kundams for the many marriages.
On every visit to the temple,there is always a surprise, some new sculpture to marvel at, that previously went unnoticed by me. The temple is too full of of detailed sculptures of all sizes to be covered on a single day and this time it was a carving of lord Ganesha on the rock near the shrine of Aadhi Seshan below the Raja gopuram.
Carvings of two serpents can be seen on either side of Ganesha on the rock. as befits another name of this ancient Tiruchengode hill, which is Naagachala. No wonder that serpent carvings are seen everywhere on the hill either as Aadhi Seshan or as Naagars.
Spending time in the beautiful temple after darshan, it was amusing to watch the goings on! Slowly the big mandapam emptied as wedding groups left. The temple staff started cleaning up and a bunch of monkeys joined in! They were everywhere, even high up on the temple pillars, on the railings, the floor, a couple of baby monkeys were sitting on the Maha Nandi! People were offering fruits and tidbits which they took absolutely unafraid.
An important reminder :
This year’s Maasi Magam is celebrated on Saturday,11th March, 2017.
Below are pictures taken inside the temple on this visit:
At six in the evening on full moon day in the Tamil Month of Karthigai, little oil lamps start to glow at every doorstep and all around the homes and in all temples throughout Tamil Nadu. It is the most divine and beautiful of sights. From the most humble dwellings to the palatial homes, lamps are lit as one even as the Maha Deepam is lit on the hill of Arunachala in Thiruvannamalai sharply at six p.m on the day of ThiruKarthigai.
The festival of Karthigai Deepam is celebrated when the full moon coincides with the rising of the six star constellation of Krithigai. The Tamil month of Karthigai is named after this constellation.
It is traditional to buy new earthen lamps every year. The photos below are of an old lady selling lamps in front of her home from whom I bought some lamps this morning. The lamp sellers from next door are her relatives and smiles light up all their faces as a joke is shared!
It is six in the evening and I have just lit lamps outside my home as have my neighbours. Sadly, my point and shoot sony camera is not good for night time pictures.
Dear readers, are there any other traditions observed during this festival? If so please share your views by posting a comment.
Rasipuram is a small ancient town with narrow streets and many small but very old temples. Its historical name was Rajapuram.
It is famous for the ghee that is made here called Rasipuram Nei. It has a rich and wholesome flavor.
The silk sarees that are woven here are beautiful. They are known as Rasipuram Pattuand the silk weaving tradition of this small town goes back many hundreds of years when the silk cloth made here was sent to neighboring countries.
Today in addition to the above, it is well known for the many educational institutions around it.
Its proximity to the Kolli hills makes it an important stop enroute to the hills.
And it was part of the Kingdom of Valvil Ori.
The featured image is the stone sculpture of King Valvil Ori in the temple.
According to legend the existence of the temple spans four yugas. A granite slab within the temple gives us details of the legend of the temple and of Rasipuram town.
In the Krudha Yugam the town was called Indrapuram. The name of Lord Siva was Neelakandamoorthy worshipped by Indra, king of the gods.
In the Tretha Yugam, the town was called Devapuram. Siva was called Chandrasekarar and he was worshipped by the nine planet gods.
In the Dwapara Yugam, the town was called Vichitrapuram. The lord took the name of Sitteswarar and he was worshipped by siddas and rishis.
In the Kali Yugam, the town was called SriRajapuram and Lord Siva’s name was Kailasanathar worshipped by a hunter and people of the Aadhi Saivar community.
Like many old towns its history dating back to the 1st or 2nd century CE starts with the temple of Lord Kailasanathar.
King Valvil Ori ruled from Kolli malai. He was a kind and generous king loved by his people. A great warrior, he excelled in archery and the story of his killing an elephant, a tiger, a deer, a wild boar and a monitor lizard with a single arrow was told and retold in lands far and wide. His kingdom included the areas of Rasipuram and Sendhamangalam.
Valvil Ori was a great devotee of Lord Siva.
One day, while hunting he was on the trail of a Venn Panri or white pig which led him a long way deep within the forests near Rasipuram. He saw it enter a clump of bushes and shot his arrow into the bushes. Parting the bushes to claim his prize, Ori was startled to see a large Sivalingam hidden in the vegetation. Worse, he saw blood trickling down from the lingam where his arrow had hit it. He realized that it was Lord Siva who had appeared as the Venn Panri. Falling to the ground he prayed to Lord Siva to forgive him. Lord Siva appeared before the king and said that he should build a temple where he found the Lingam. King Ori built a temple for Siva. The sanctum sanctorum or Karuvarai which we see today is believed to be built by Valvil Ori.Later other kings added to and extended the temple.
A narrow street leads to the Iswaran koil as all Siva temples are called by the local people.
Entrance to the temple is through the Rajagopuram which faces west. The beautiful Nandi Mandam with exquisite carvings has a large Nandi. Another mandapam which covers the inner prakaram leads to the artha mandapam and sanctum. The name of Lord Siva is Kailasanathar. The Sivalingam faces west which is special and only found rarely. The Swayambhu lingam is fairly large and bears the mark of a scar where it was hit by King Ori’s arrow. This scar can be seen when abhishegam is performed. The sanctum believed to be built by Valvil Ori is very old. The artha mandapam in front of the sanctum is full of the most beautiful stone carvings.
An ancient doorway to the right leads to an inner prakara and another door ahead opens on the outer prakara. In this inner prakara on both sides of the door from the arthamandapam are two unique shrines. One has a rare embossed sculpture of Vikata chakra Vinayagar carved from a single stone and who has a rudraksha mala in one hand. The shrine to the right of the doorway has the idol of Lord Veerabadra with a Nandi in front.
The name of the Mother goddess is Aram Valartha Nayagi. She faces East and is very beautiful. There is a Mahameru before her. My visit to the temple was on the day after Adi Pooram which is sacred to Parvati, and so was blessed with a darshan of Ambal dressed in all her finery…truly a sight to behold. I was able to take a picture of Ambigai in this alangaram. You can see Ambal wearing two garlands made entirely of glass bangles of all colors. Beautiful,isn’t it ?!
There are two shrines for Lord Murugan. He stands alone as Dhandayudhapani in the first shrine. In the second shrine we see him as Karthigeya seated on a peacock with Valli and Deivanai standing on either side. Saint Arunagirinathar has sung a Tirupugazh hymn on the Murugan of this temple.
The first shrine on the pradakshina path in the outer prakaram starts with the shrine of Lord Kasi Viswanathar with Visalakshi and ends with the shrine of lord Ramanathaswamy with Parvatha vardhini. It reminds us of the beautiful Kasi-Rameshwaram tradition. The pradakshinam itself is truly beautiful with many old and lovely shrines. The sthala vriksham are Nelli and Vilvam trees. There are separate shrines for Sani bhagavan, Kala Bairavar, Pancha lingams, Gajalakshmi, Saraswati, Aiyappan, 63 Nayanmars and four Santhanacharyas.
The Dakshinamurthi shrine is different, almost a small temple by itself. The temple has a utsavar or procession deity of Lord Dakshinamurthy with his four rishi disciples. On the first Thursday of each month, He comes to the shrine of the main Dakshinamurthy. Yellow threads placed in puja are offered as prasad to devotees.
There is a shrine for Naagar, the serpent deity.
A rare and unique feature of this temple is the life size stone sculpture of King Valvil Ori under a Vanni tree, in the outer prakara near the Rajagopuram.
It is the Featured image of this post. It depicts King Ori, tall and majestic with a sword at his hip. Hands folded he is shown deep in prayer to his beloved Siva.
Aadi Perukku is an important festival in the Kolli hills and on this day special abhishekam is performed for this king with puja.
In many old temples, we find granite sculptures of the kings, queens or holy men who built the temple or were associated with it, which is how we come to know about them besides the temple inscriptions in Vattezhuthu, which is the ancient written form of the Tamil language.
Another myth of this temple is that there is a secret underground passage from the Kailasanathar temple that leads to the Arapaleeswarar temple in Kolli Malai.
Do visit this lovely temple!
The temple is open from 6 am to 12 noon and from 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm.
Rasipuram is 33 kms from Salem in Tamil Nadu, and 27 kms from Namakkal.
It is the eve of Vinayaka Chathurthy- a festival for Vinayaka also called Ganesh, Ganapathy or Pillaiyar depending on which part of the country you are in! One of India’s boisterous festivals, loved by young and old alike, it begins with the coming of Ganesha to individual homes and to neighbourhoods, the celebrations over the next few days, not to forget the yummy dishes that are offered to Him and then eaten as Prasad and the final journey to rivers or the sea where the idols are immersed. For the duration of His stay He is one of the household. I always feel sad when it is time for him to leave.
These pictures show Ganesh idols in my hometown, Salem.The featured image shows colourful parasols for Ganapathy and two little ones helping their mother make more parasols! An evening walk in the kadai veethi around the Raja Ganapathy temple in the heart of the city was vastly entertaining!
More than two thousand years ago, around the beginning of the current era, ancient Tamil Nadu was called Tamilagamand comprised many small kingdoms ruled by various ruling clans, besides the mighty Chera, Chola and Pandiya empires. These ruling clans were collectively called as Kuru nila mannargal(குறுநில மன்னர்கள்), a Tamil term which translates as- small region kings.
One of these many ruling clans or dynasties was the Mazhavar clan and the most famous of its kings was King Ori. Around 200 A.D he ruled from Kolli malai over the Kolli Malai, Sendhamangalam and Rasipuram regions of Tamil Nadu. The area of his kingdom comprised 18 Naadu or counties.
The name Ori (ஓரி) literally means ‘The Only One’. He was known as Val vil Ori, ( வல்வில் ஓரி)- a title bestowed on him for his exceptional skill in archery -( Val means Powerful and Vil means Bow). An interesting story is told of how a single arrow from the bow of Ori killed an elephant, pierced the open mouth of a roaring tiger, and killed a deer and a wild boar before it impaled a monitor lizard.
Besides being lauded for his marksmanship. Ori was also hailed as a benevolent monarch whose gifts patronizing the arts, to bards, musicians and dancers were legendary. So great was his kodai- bountiful gifts that he is hailed as one of the seven great vallal kings (கடை ஏழு வள்ளல்கள்) of ancient Tamil Nadu. Vallal (வள்ளல்) is a Tamil word for a person or monarch whose generosity is without bounds.
King Ori was a monarch of the Kadai Sanga Kaalam– the Third and Last Sangam Age, the period in the history of ancient southern India (known as Tamilagam) from 300 BCE to 300 CE.
The Sangam literature written in this period is vast and consists of many books and anthologies. Authored by numerous poets, both men and women, and recorded in palm leaf manuscripts, they are well preserved and are valuable treatises on a vast range of subjects from philosophy to politics.
The Purananooru songs of Sanga Ilakkiyam or Sangam literature are a record of the political history of Sangam Age Tamil Nadu. Each song bears the name of the poet and the name of the king of whom it was sung.
We come to know of King Valvil Ori from the songs of poets Vanparanar and Kazhaithin Yaanaiyaar. These songs are a delight to read.
Given below is a delightful Sangam poem on King Ori by Vanparanar.
The translation by Vaidehi Herbert makes it easy to understand.
புறநானூறு152,பாடியவர்: வன்பரணர்,பாடப்பட்டோன்: வல்வில்ஓரி,திணை: பாடாண்,துறை: பரிசில்விடை வேழம் வீழ்த்த விழுத் தொடைப் பகழி பேழ்வாய் உழுவையைப் பெரும் பிறிது உறீஇப் புழல் தலை புகர்க் கலை உருட்டி உரல் தலைக் கேழல் பன்றி வீழ அயலது ஆழல் புற்றத்து உடும்பில் செற்றும் வல் வில் வேட்டம் வலம்படுத் திருந்தோன் புகழ் சால் சிறப்பின் அம்பு மிகத் திளைக்கும் கொலை வன் யார் கொலோ கொலைவன் மற்று இவன் விலைவன் போலான் வெறுக்கை நன்கு உடையன் ஆரம் தாழ்ந்த அம் பகட்டு மார்பின் சாரல் அருவிப் பய மலைக் கிழவன் ஓரி கொல்லோ அல்லன் கொல்லோ பாடுவல் விறலி ஓர் வண்ணம் நீரும் மண் முழா அமைமின் பண் யாழ் நிறுமின் கண் விடு தூம்பின் களிற்று உயிர் தொடுமின் எல்லரி தொடுமின் ஆகுளி தொடுமின் பதலை ஒருகண் பையென இயக்குமின் மதலை மாக்கோல் கைவலம் தமின் என்று இறைவன் ஆகலின் சொல்லுபு குறுகி மூவேழ் துறையும் ழுறையுளிக் கழிப்பிக் கோவெனப் பெயரிய காலை ஆங்கு அது தன் பெயர் ஆகலின் நாணி மற்று யாம் நாட்டிடன் நாட்டிடன் வருதும் ஈங்கு ஓர் வேட்டுவர் இல்லை நின் ஒப்போர் என வேட்டது மொழியவும் விடாஅன் வேட்டத்தில் தான் உயிர் செகுத்த மான் நிணப் புழுக்கோடு ஆன் உருக்கு அன்ன வேரியை நல்கித் தன் மலைப் பிறந்த தாவில் நன் பொன் பன் மணிக் குவையொடும் விரைஇக் கொண்ம் எனச் சுரத்து இடை நல்கியோனே விடர்ச் சிமை ஓங்கு இருங்கொல்லிப் பொருநன் ஓம்பா ஈகை விறல் வெய்யோனே.
The translation of the poem by Vaidehi Herbert
Puranānūru 152, Poet Vanparanar sang for Valvil Ōri, Thinai: Pādān, Thurai: Parisil Vidai He was widely famed for his skill in killing, the one who shoots with his strong bow. His perfectly shot arrow killed a tiger with gaping mouth, dropped a spotted stag with hollow horns, felled a boar with head like mortar, and embedded in a monitor lizard in a nearby deep hole. Who is the archer who shoots with such skill? He does not look like a murderer. With a pearl strand on his proud chest, he looks like a man with great wealth.
Is it Ōri, lord of the richly yielding mountain with waterfalls on its slopes, or was it someone else? I said, “Viralis, I will sing, you spread clay on the mulā drum, pluck the strings of your yāl, play the trumpet that is open at one end like an elephant’s trunk, beat the ellari drum, strike the ākuli drum, softly hit the pathalai drum on its single eye, and place in my hand the black rod that foretells the future,” and I approached him. We sang twenty one themes of songs before him in the manner in which they should be sung, and addressed him as “King!” for which he was embarrassed since it was his title. We told him that we go to different countries and have seen no hunter who can be compared to him.
Without asking us for what we wanted, he gave us boiled fatty meat of deer that been killed in hunt and toddy that was like melted cow ghee. And right there, in that wasteland, he gave us fine, faultless gold mixed with heaps of sapphires from his mountain, the lord of majestic Kolli Mountain which has caves in its summits, who desires victories, and gives without holding anything back.
This is another poem on the king. It describes the riches given by the king to a group of visiting dancers.
புறநானூறு 153, பாடியவர்: வன்பரணர், பாடப்பட்டோன்: வல்வில்ஓரி, திணை: பாடாண், துறை: இயன்மொழி மழை அணி குன்றத்துக் கிழவன் நாளும் இழை அணி யானை இரப்போர்க்கு ஈயும் சுடர்விடு பசும் பூண் சூர்ப்பு அமை முன் கை அடு போர் ஆனா ஆதன் ஓரி மாரி வண் கொடை காணிய நன்றும் சென்றது மன் எம் கண்ணுளங் கடும்பே பனி நீர்ப் பூவா மணிமிடை குவளை வால் நார்த் தொடுத்த கண்ணியும் கலனும் யானை இனத்தொடு பெற்றனர் நீங்கிப் பசியார் ஆகல் மாறு கொல் விசி பிணிக் கூடு கொள் இன் இயம் கறங்க ஆடலும் ஒல்லார் தம் பாடலும் மறந்தே.
Translation of the above poem by Vaidehi Herbert
Puranānūru 153, Poet Vanparanar sang for Valvil Ōri, Thinai: Pādān, Thurai: Iyan Moli My family of dancers went gladly to see the rain-like great generosity of Ōri who never ceases to wage murderous battles, lord of a mountain decorated by clouds, wearing curved bracelets that shoot out rays, who gives away each day, elephants with adornments.
He gave them gold waterlilies that do not bloom in cold water, inset with sapphires and hung on silver cords, wealth, and herds of elephants. Is it because they are not starving any more that they don’t dance even when sweet music instruments are played, and have also forgotten their music?
புறநானூறு 204, பாடியவர்: கழைதின்யானையார், பாடப்பட்டோன்: வல்வில்ஓரி, திணை: பாடாண், துறை: பரிசில் ஈ என இரத்தல் இழிந்தன்று அதன் எதிர் ஈயேன் என்றல் அதனினும் இழிந்தன்று கொள் எனக் கொடுத்தல் உயர்ந்தன்று அதன் எதிர் கொள்ளேன் என்றல் அதனினும் உயர்ந்தன்று தெண்ணீர்ப் பரப்பின் இமிழ் திரைப் பெருங்கடல் உண்ணார் ஆகுப நீர் வேட்டோரே ஆவும் மாவும் சென்று உணக் கலங்கிச் சேறோடு பட்ட சிறுமைத்து ஆயினும் உண்ணீர் மருங்கின் அதர் பல ஆகும் புள்ளும் பொழுதும் பழித்தல் அல்லதை உள்ளிச் சென்றோர் பழியலர் அதனால் புலவேன் வாழியர் ஓரி விசும்பின் கருவி வானம் போல வரையாது சுரக்கும் வள்ளியோய் நின்னே.
Puranānūru 204, Poet Kalaithin Yānaiyār sang to Valvil Ōri, Thinai: Pādān, Thurai: Parisil It is a dishonor to request, “Give me something.” On the other hand, it is a greater dishonor to answer, “I will give nothing.” To offer someone a gift is superior. It is even more superior to not accept it. People with thirst will not drink the clear water of the large ocean with roaring waves. But when a site has potable water, even if it is not good, mixed with mud, roiled by cows and horses, there will be many paths leading to it.
If those in need go to kings and are not given gifts, times and omens are to be blamed, and not the kings. So I do not hate you. May you live long, Ōri! You are a generous man who gives gifts without any limits, like clouds with thunder and lightning in the sky!
In addition to these Purananooru poems,there are accounts of Ori in the Agananooru, Kurunthogai, Nattrinai poems of Sangam literature.
The rich heritage of Tamil Nadu is unique .No palaces or castles of these kings of long ago stand today but the temples they built have withstood the ravages of time as have the palm leaf manuscripts that document this legacy.
The temples and palm leaf manuscripts are what we have today of a more than 2000 year old legacy.
There is a statue of Valvil Ori in Semmedu in the Kolli hills.
The Govt. of TamilNadu organizes a Valvil Ori festival in August in Kolli malai every year in honour of this famous king. As a part of the festivities archery contests are held for school children!
In subsequent posts we shall visit temples and other places in the fabled Kingdom of Ori.
Summer is well and truly here! Soaring temperatures are touching 40 degree Celsius, somewhat unusual in April.
We were invited by friends to a gala village event in the village of Pudhupatti near Namagiripettai in Rasipuram taluk, Namakkal district.
A lovely farming village, Pudhupatti also called R. Pudhupatti,has a very populartemple for the goddessMariamman.
Pandigai is a common Tamil name for festival and today’s festivities centered on the temple chariot.
Village Deities of Tamil Nadu
The magnificent temples of Tamil Nadu are mostly Siva and Vishnu temples. There is another category of gods and goddesses whose temples are predominant in the villages. These are the village deities called asGrama Devata and their temples may be seen in every Tamil Nadu village and town. The Grama Devata is periodically worshiped and propitiated. Village people fear the wrath of these deities but generally they are benevolent divine beings.
The villages are essentially farming communities and so the Tamil Nadu countryside is dotted with shrines to these gods.
The village deities are the guardians, the healers and the ever present help that every little village and town has. They have a major role to play in the day to day life of the people and protect them from the countless ills, afflictions and pains of everyday village life.
When calamity overtakes the village, when pestilence or famine or cattle disease makes its appearance, it is to the village deity that the whole body of villagers turn to for protection – Right Reverend Henry Whitehead in The Village Gods of South India.
These gods are called as Ayyanar, Muniappan, Mariamman, Angalamman, Pidari, Karuppana swamy, Periasami and so on.
Mariamma is the commonest of them all. Her function is to bring rain and ward off and cure small pox, chicken pox, measles and rashes.
Thuluka Soodamani Amman temple in Pudhupatti
The temple of Thuluka soodamani amman in Pudhupatti is one such village temple for Mariamman.
The mid-day journey to Pudhupatti in the scorching sun wasn’t so pleasant even in an air- conditioned car. But once we neared the temple it was a different matter altogether. No one seemed to care about the hot summer sun, and the air of celebration was catching! Folks were dressed in their best, the endless festival shops sold everything under the sun – literally!
The whole place was action packed, with the temple as the center of all the festivities. In the courtyard of the temple women were busy with a ritual called Pongal Vaikiradhu which involved cooking the sweet rice dish named pongal in earthen or metal pots on an impromptu stove made of three large stones and some kindling or firewood. The cooked pongal was offered to the goddess on banana leaf lined brass plates and taken as prasad. By the roadside a family gave glasses of koozh, a rice and ragi(finger millet) porridge to all. There were free buttermilk stalls with big pots of cold buttermilk. A makeshift shelter was the venue of Annadaanam where people could eat tasty meals absolutely free.There were stalls where you could have tattoos made for Rs. 15.
The temple itself was crowded but we had a good darshan of goddess Mariamman. As I said, her name is Thuluka Soodamani amman. Long ago, the armies of the Nawab are thought to have camped in this region and the goddess blessed the Muslim commander and his men.Hence the unusual name.
The temple is famous for cures relating to skin ailments and vision problems. Therefore people with skin and eye maladies come from afar to offer prayers to the goddess.
Outside the temple the Ther (chariot) was all decked up and ready to go. As usual the villagers joined together and pulled the beautiful Ther.
Behind the ther, I saw something very unusual.
Men and women, wearing garlands of flowers indicative of their vows and holding bunches of neem leaves sat in two rows on the paved street in the hot sun. People brought pots of water which they poured on them, the drenching with cool water being necessary to offset the effects of the noonday sun. When the ther with the idol of Mariamman started to move, they lay on the ground and rolled along behind the ther with hands folded in supplication above their heads.
This ritual is called as Angapradakshanam and it is done for answered prayers, usually within the precincts of the temple around the main shrine.
For the first time I saw it being done on a hot paved street and following the ther.
Such devotion is a humbling experience and I felt respect and admiration for all the men, women and children who kept their vows that day. It was a personal interaction between each of the participants and the mother goddess.
Taking part in these rituals involves a period of fasting prior to the festival. It usually means a single meal a day at noon or in the evening and strict abstinence from meat, taking liquor or smoking. It is a purification that conditions the body to the rigorous process of Angapradakshinam.
Rituals like these have been followed by the villagers traditionally and vary from village to village and from temple to temple. For instance, in Pudhupatti village, our friends said that it was the custom that no palagaram (Tamil for sweetmeats) that required deep frying in oil may be made for the duration of the Pandigai (festival) which usually lasted for two weeks.
Photos of the festival.
WHERE IT IS
The temple is 5 km from Namagiripettai near Rasipuram.
The distance from Salem is 43 km ,roughly an hour’s drive.
The route from Salem is Salem- Rasipuram – Namagiripettai- R. Pudhupatti.
Is there a festival in your village or town? If so,do share your views.