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Sundaravalli Amman

Māri (Tamil: மாரி), also known as Mariamman (Tamil: மாரியம்மன்) and Mariaai (Marathi: मरी आई), both meaning “Mother Mari”, spelt also Maariamma (Tamil: மாரியம்மா), or simply Amman or Aatha (Tamil: அம்மன், “mother”) is the South Indian Hindu goddess of rain. She is the main South Indian mother goddess, predominant in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Māri is closely associated with the Hindu goddesses Parvati and Durga as well as with her North Indian counterpart Shitaladevi. Goddess Mariamman and Goddess Kali are closely associated with each other. Mariamman is a form of Durga who took the form of Kali.

Origin

Mariamman is an ancient goddess, whose worship probably originated from pre-Vedic mother goddess cult of Dravidian people before the arrival of the Aryans with their Brahmanic religion.This is well attested by the unemployment of Brahmins in officiating the worshiping rituals of the goddess and by the non-Vedic worshiping method that was embraced by her devotees. In Tamil, the word ‘Maari’ would mean rain and ‘amman’ would literally mean mother but here “mother nature.”. ‘Maari’ can also mean female form of ‘Indra’ who is also called ‘Maara’. Since the ‘Indra’ worship was prevalent among the Sangam Tamil people, ‘Maari’ as a female form of ‘Maara’ or ‘Indra’ is worshipped for bestowing rainfall. ‘Indrani’ is one of the saptha kannikas and the 7 kannikas find innumerable references in Tamil Sangam literature as well as temple worship. She was believed and worshipped by the ancient Dravidian people to bring rain and hence prosperity to them as their vegetation was mainly dependent upon rain. The goddess was not a local deity, connected to a specific location but worshiped throughout the Dravidian nation.

Worship

The four-day-long (Saptami to Dashami) Durga Puja is the biggest annual festival in Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Nepal, where it is known as Dashain. It is celebrated likewise with much fervour in various parts of India, especially the Himalayan region, but is celebrated in various forms throughout the Hindu universe.

This is an idol of Durga Pooja, comprising Goddess Durga, her daughters Laxmi, Saraswati and her sons Ganesha, Karitik

The day of Durga’s victory is celebrated as Vijayadashami (Bihar, Bengali), Dashain (Nepali) or Dussehra (Hindi) – these words literally mean “the Victory on the Tenth (day)”.

In Andhra Pradesh she is also worshipped as Kanaka Durgammathalli,where there is also famous temple for Goddess Kanaka Durga in Indrakeeladri,Vijayawada.She is also known by the name of Bhavani.

In Kashmir she is worshipped as shaarika (the main temple is in Hari Parbat in Srinagar).

The actual period of the worship however may be on the preceding nine days (Navaratri) followed by the last day called Vijayadashami in North India or five days in Bengal (from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing-moon fortnight). Nine aspects of Durga known as Navadurga are meditated upon, one by one during the nine-day festival by devout Shakti worshippers. Durga Puja also includes the worship of Shiva, who is Durga’s consort (Durga is an aspect of Goddess Parvati), in addition to Lakshmi, Saraswati with Ganesha and Kartikeya, who are considered to be Durga’s children. Worship of mother nature is done, through nine types of plant (called “Kala Bou”), including a plantain (banana) tree, which represent nine divine forms of Goddess Durga. In South India especially, Andhra Pradesh Dussera Navaratri is also celebrated and the goddess is dressed each day as a different devi – Saraswati, Parvati, Lakshmi etc. – for the nine days.

In North India, the tenth day, is celebrated as Dussehra, the day Rama emerged victorious in his battle against the demon, Ravana – gigantic straw effigies of Ravana are burnt in designated open spaces (e.g. Delhi’s Ram Lila grounds), watched by thousands of families and little children.

In Mysore (which originated from Mahishasooru) in Karnataka, she is worshipped as Chamundeshwari, the patron goddess of the city during Dussehra (Dasara).

In Gujarat it is celebrated as the last day of Navaratri, during which the Garba dance is performed to celebrate the victory of Mahishasura-mardini, Durga.

The Goddess Durga is worshipped in her peaceful form as Maha Gauri, The Fair Lady, Shree Shantadurga also known as Santeri, is the patron Goddess of Goa. She is worshipped by all Goan Hindus.

In Maharashtra, Tulja Bhavani,Hedavde Mahalaxmi and Ambabai are worshipped as Mahishasur Mardini, who is the patron goddess of the land. Bhavani is known as Tulaja, Amba, Renuka, Yamai Saptshrungi and Jogai in different places of Maharashtra. She is the inspirational goddess of Raja Shivaji. As per legends, Bhavani appeared after Shivaji prayed to her and blessed him to be able to make Hindustan or the then India (ruled by the Mughals) independent – the kingdom he established eventually became the Hindu Pad Padshahi (sometimes also called the Maratha Empire), which comprised all the land ruled by the Mughals and brought India back under Hindu sovereignty.

In Bangladesh also, the four-day long Sharadiya Durga Puja (Bengali: শারদীয়া দুর্গা পুজো, ‘autumnal Durga worship’) is the biggest religious festivals for the Hindus and celebrated across the country with Vijayadashami being a national holiday.

The prominence of Durga Puja increased gradually during the British Raj in Bengal. After the Hindu reformists identified Durga with India, she became an icon for the Indian independence movement.

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