Shri Mariamman, The Prominent Goddess of Hinduism
Shri Mariamman, the Goddess of Rain, is celebrated and adorned as the consort of Lord Shiva in Hinduism. This Goddess is cordially and humbly worshipped by the great mass of people of Tamil Nadu in India. Since She is Goddess of poor and village people her prime temples are situated in various parts of the state of the country. The Hindu people are showing great interest on worshipping Goddesses like Shri Mariamman and it is believed that Shri Mariamman is the symbol of sacrifice and motherhood and She will offer abundant wealth and good health to her faithful devotees. Those days She was also worshipped as the Goddess one who will save her people from the viral diseases like smallpox, measles and chickenpox. Margosa tree and leaves, turmeric powder and rain are the things associated with Goddess Mariamman.
The Story of Goddess Mariamman
In legend it is told that She is the other incarnation of Goddess Shakthi, the consort of Lord Shiva. There is an interesting story about this Goddess. Once Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakthi took the incarnation of saint Jamadhakni and RenukaDevi on the earth. They had five sons namely Visu, Viswas, Viswaruban, Paranjothi, and Parasuraman. Shri RenukaDevi did all the favors to her husband saint Jamadhakni. She had great spiritual power as she was able to make a pot out of fresh mud in which he used to carry water for pooja activities at their home. One day she happened to see a kandarv on the sky and stunned on his beauty for a while. Though she was Goddess Shakthi in previous birth, she behaved as ordinary human on seeing kandarv. Because of her misdeed she lost her spiritual power and was unable to make instant mud pot. She reported her husband that she was disturbed by an animal and so she could not bring the water to home. But the saint knew the truth by his gnan and became furious. He asked his first four sons to cut off the head of their mother. But, they refused to do that. The saint cursed them and called out his youngest son ParasuRaman who valued the words of his father. Once his father told to chop off the head of his mother, he immediately rushed to chase RenukaDevi.
The pity RenukaDevi ran for life seeking others help. On her way she met an Arundathi girl and stood behind her. On seeing the merciless activity of ParasuRaman, Arundathi girl refused to leave RenukaDevi despite the warning of ParasuRaman. At the end ParasuRaman chopped off the heads of both of them and brought them to his father with grieve. Seeing this the saint appreciated his son and blessed him with boon. ParasuRaman fell on the foot of his father to give life back to his brothers, mother and arudathi girl. He gave his son holy water which would be powerful to fix the heads of women. After getting the holy water he saved his brothers and rushed to the spot where he killed his mother and poor girl. But in confusion he changed the heads and bodies and fixed his mother's head on the body of arundathi girl. From that day RenukaDevi, the incarnation of Goddess Shakthi got the body of arundathi girl and began to be humbly worshipped as Shri Mariamman.
Various Ritual Activities Performed by The Devotees of Mariamman
In some places of Tamil Nadu where the prime temples of this Goddess is situated, the people used to undertake some ritual activities like Agni pot, Fire Walk and Kavadi. These kind of ritual activities will be performed every year during festival time. Before performing these ritual activities everyone would follow strict viradam for the period of 30 days. On those days people will avoid nonvegetarian foods, sex and other bad habits including smoking and drinking liquors. It is believed that Shri Mariamman will offer good wealth and health to the devotees who will undertake these ritual activities.
Agni Pot (TheeChatty)
This is a small semi-spherical pot made out of mud which is painted with different colors. The pot will be partiallly filled with rice husk and some margosa wooden pieces to make fire in the pot. To ignite fire inside the pot camphor will be used. The mixture of oils like gingeli and castor will be added to the burnning margosa sticks to get constant fire. The Agni Pots will be carried by the devotees on their hands from their home to the prime temple of Shri Mariamman and the same will be left at the corner of shrine after reaching there. Traditional music like nadhaswaram and melam will be accompanied with this ritual activity. It is amazingly true that smoke which will come out of the fire pot will have pleasant smell and it'll never give irritation to our eyes and nose.
This is containing two semicircular pieces of wood or steel and both attached by a horizontal bar at the bottom. This is usually decorated with colorful shining papers and cloths. Sometimes both ends of kavadi will be provided with small vessels containing holy water or milk. The devotees will carry the kavadies on their shoulder and dance with it until they reach the prime temple of Shri Mariamman. This is also accompanied with the traditional music of nadhaswaram and melam.
This is indeed toughest activity performed by the true devotees of Shri Mariamman. During festival time fire pit will be prepared by burnning the wooden pieces at a place nearby the prime temple. The burnt wooden pieces will be broken into small pieces to get a layer of embers. The devotees carrying fire pots and kavavadi will dare to run over the embers. This will be performed only by very few devotees having will power and confidence.
The Most Popular Mariamman Temples In Tamil Nadu, India
There are many temples of Goddess Mariamman situated in different parts of Tamil Nadu in India. It's true that every shrine has its own story and importance. Shri KaruMariamman Temple at Thiruverkkadu in Chennai, Shri Samayapuram Mariamman Temple at Samayapuram near Trichy, Shri GowMariamman Temples located at Veerapandi and Cumbum in Theni District, Shri Kottai Mariamman Temple at Dindigul and Vandiyur Mariamman Temple at Madurai are some of the important temples of this Goddess in the state.