The Shri Maha Kali Devi Mandir Inc.

All about Mariamman


History of Mariamman
Deep in southern India, in the villages of Tamilnadu and Karnataka, there is this very ancient tradition of Mariamman worship. According to scholars, the cult of Mariamman pre-dates the Vedic Gods, which means that it is probably over 4000 years old. In the pre-Vedic times, when Hinduism was not yet the expansive religion it is today, villagers in south India worshipped very localized Gods. These were the Village Gods. Each village had its own non-transferable, “our-very-own” God that understood local concerns and provided them specific relief. Perhaps, this is how Mariamman worship evolved.

What would have worried an agrarian village most? Too little rain. Or too much of it. Either of them could ruin the harvest and starve the village. Therefore, what they needed most was a Rain-Regulator. Mariamman was exactly this, and much more. Mari in pure Tamil is Rain and Amman is Mother Goddess. Thus, the earliest and most venerated God of the villagers was the Mother Goddess of Rain. As time passed by, people wanted more from their deity. The Goddess of Rain’s blessing of fertility included human fertility too. Pregnant women offer glass bangles to Mariamman as a prayer for safe childbirth, even to this day. Another everyday concern for these ancient people was the outbreak of disease. Villagers were fearful of contracting highly contagious diseases like Smallpox, Chickenpox, Measles etc. (this class of diseases was called Ammai in Tamil). Hence people prayed to Mariamman for immunity from such diseases.

For an ancient Goddess, Mariamman is quite egalitarian. Her temples do not necessarily need a brahmin priest to officiate – though some of the bigger Mariamman temples now have Brahmin priests; many of them even have priestesses officiating during worship. There is some evidence in Sangam literature (Tamil literature produced around 300 BCE to 300CE) that the big Mariamman temple at Madurai was presided over by a high priestess.

Gradually, Mariamman came to be worshipped in other forms like Pidari, Katteri Amman, Draupadi Amman and so on. Essentially the Goddess was worshipped for protection from disease, especially the pox  (‘Ammai’) variety. Mariamman took roots all over Tamilnadu as the Gramadevata (village goddess) or Kaaval Deivam (protecting deity). But the Tamil people are not the only ones who worship the Mother Goddess. Sheetala worship in North India and Maisamma worship in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana address the same concerns.

When Vedic Hinduism evolved, the Mariamman cult easily adapted itself. Today, Mariamman is considered another manifestation of Parvati and Durga of the Vedic Hindu pantheon. In some traditions, she is the sister of Lord Vishnu. There is also an interesting story related to the Mahabharata. In this story, Draupadi, was really a manifestation of Goddess Kali, but chose to live the life of an ordinary mortal, as the wife of the five Pandava princes. The secret was known to no one, except Krishna himself. By day she was an ordinary woman, but at night she used to travel to certain villages in Tamilnadu and guard them. This is the Tamil tradition of Draupadi Amman- Mariamman.

When the Tamil diaspora settled in other parts of the world, Mariamman travelled along with them. Naturally. Afterall, She had to provide protection to those who had adored her for millennia. That is why we have Mariamman temples in Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, South Africa Thailand and Vietnam. Indeed, Mariamman is the Village Goddess who went international.

Source: Mariamman – The village Goddess

Goddess Shakti
Goddess Shakti is associated with the dynamic force that pervades the entire Universe and responsible for creation. Her name itself implies the primordial cosmic energy which is responsible for all events, actions and other related factors pertaining to existence. Shakti represents the very embodiment and personification of Divine feminine power and is referred to as the ‘Great Mother’ in Hindu culture. She manifests through female creativity and fertility on the Earthly plane and plays an all important role in rejuvenation and the cycle of birth and re-birth. Thus, she also fulfills the vital role of casting off the old and ushering in the new. Her power is also present in the masculine aspect of things, albeit in a subtle way. Goddess Shakti is also worshipped as the Supreme Being and appears in various Avatars as Adi Parashakti, Adi Shakti and Tripura Sundari, all forms of the female counterpart of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati.

In the Hindu pantheon, the holy triad of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu is all powerful and occupies the highest level in the cosmic sphere. The central point of this all pervasive mighty trinity is occupied by the primordial force ‘Shakti’ which is said to be self-born, independent, and all consuming, having no beginning and no end. This forms the very core of the visible and invisible Universe and can never be destroyed by any force, however so great.

Incarnations of Goddess Shakti
Many associate Goddess Shakti as a part of a group of eight Mother Goddesses who represent the power and energy of major Hindu Gods figuring prominently in Hinduism. Some of her incarnations include Ganga, Kamakshi, Kanakadurga, Mahalakshmi, Meenakshi,  Manasa, Mariamman, Yellamma, Poleramma, Gangamma and Perantalamma.

Worship of Goddess Shakti
The Goddess is also revered as ‘Amma” (mother) in most parts of South India and there are several temples dedicated to the Goddess in her various incarnations in these regions. Many parts of the rural community consider her as the protector of the village and treat her as the deity who safeguards against wicked and harmful aspects. She is also the one who sees through all wrong doing and punishes the evil, while extending her benign grace to all those worship her. Some also worship her for curing diseases, especially chicken pox and similar ailments.

The Goddess is venerated in many Avatars and forms the basis of Hindu cult worship as in:

This sect regards Goddess Shakti as the Supreme Being, with all other Gods and Celestial Beings regarded as her manifestations. Shakti is revered as the all-encompassing, all-consuming and all-pervading aspect of worship.

Adi Parasakthi and Smarta Advaita
Adi Parasakthi who manifested as Tripura Sundari, is considered as the direct manifestation of Shakti and represents the ultimate power inherent in all objects of creation. The Goddess forms the basis of all feminine aspects in Hindu deities and considered the source of all three primary female Goddesses, in the form of Parvati, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Shakti also plays a vital role in the Smarta Advaita sect of Hinduism advocated by the great saint philosopher ‘Adi Sankara’.

The Shakti Peethas
The Shakti Peethas which are located in various parts of South Asia are all Shakti centers of worship. They can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tibet and Pakistan, all regions which once constituted parts of India.


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