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The Story Behind Marieamman

Mari which means rain is a very popular Goddess of Tamil Nadu. While scholars believe that she is a goddess of the pre Aryan days, most of the common people believe her as Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva or Durga who arose from her to kill the asuras.

Some people believe her to be Renuka, the mother of Lord Parasurama. Normally the priests in her temples do not belong to the Brahmin Community.

The common people pray to her for bringing rain and avoiding epidemics.  In her temple festivals, it is common to see people walk bare footed on glowing embers. This prayer is an extremely popular prayer sung in her temples.

One of the grandest festivals of the South Indian community, the Mariammen prayer.

However popular this festival may be, it is rather disheartening to note that many do not know the origin and significance of this particular deity and festival. The concept of mother worship has existed since time immemorial.

Shakthi, as Divine Mother, is portrayed as cosmic energy in its dynamic form. Being the mother of the universe. She is ever ready to heed the call of Her devotees. As such an instance did this force manifest as Muthu Mari Ammen, Muthu (pearl); Mari (rain); Ammen (Mother), thus being titled as the Mother of Rain, that which is more precious than pearls.

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In time of great drought, a time when people were plagued with measles, mumps, etc. did these people seek the help of the Divine Mother. This Mother, ever willing to help Her children manifested in the form of a woman garbed in yellow and carrying a pot of fermented meal and some syringa leaves, descended on the state of Samayapuram.

Amman Temple India
Amman Temple India

Here she fed the ill with the porridge and nursed them with a mixture syringa leaves and tumeric paste. She continued healing the sick and when her work was done She retired to the forest. The people whom She had cured sought Her and wanted to know the identity of this mysterious Atah (aunt). They found Her seated under a syringa tree. They asked Her to reveal Her identity and wanted to know how She could be thanked for saving the lives of so many.

She disclosed Herself as the Mother of the universe and asked only that every year in the time that she appeared, her devotees gather in great numbers, worship Her and distribute holy porridge etc. to everybody, and promised to be their guiding and protecting force.

She then disappeared leaving torrents of rain to bathe the earth and aid growth of flora. She then became known as Samayapuram Mariatha and Her scripture being the Mariammen Thalatu. It is, therefore, in this great month of Aadi (July – August) that the Mother Mariammen is venerated as the protector and curer of all miseries. The Gargum symbolising her crown is carried honouring Her as the Queen of the Universe.

The Garghum symbolising her crown is carried honoring her as the Supreme Queen of the universe, Adhi ParaShakthie. During this period the sanctified food blessed by our Divine Mother, the porridge; curries etc., tastes especially delicious and there is intense unity among the assembled devotees, and the regular showers of rain reminds us of Her everlasting presence with us. The Mariamman Festival has various aspects to it. We have stated that this divine Mother had healed the sick with fermented porridge. The question one would ask then is,

WHY PORRIDGE? The porridge has a cooling effect on the system especially in the hot months of summer in India. This porridge brings great relief to the digestive system.

How to prepare the porridge?

The porridge is prepared by taking the required amount of mealie meal and soaking it in a pot of water for a period of 5 or 7 or 9 days for it to ferment.

On the day of the prayer the fermented mealie meal is transferred into another pot and brought to boil. Once the porridge is cooked it must be cooled. Sour milk, chopped onions, shallot and salt is added to the porridge and mixed.

The porridge is then poured into either 3 or 7 or 9 containers which is offered unto Shree Mariamman before consumption by the devotees. It is revealed that when this porridge is consumed after offering it to Amma, it contains a special power or (Shakthie) which heals any internal sickness and ailment.

Healing of Measles, Mumps, Small Pox etc.

Another meaning of the Tamil word “Muthu Mari” is small pox. This ailment is considered a divine visitation from the Goddess. When a child has this ailment, one should keep the child in an isolated room, which must be kept clean to honour the presence of Amma. All shoes must be removed; a brass vessel containing turmeric water and syringa leaves is placed at the doorway so that outsiders may sprinkle the water on themselves before entering the room, this is to purify or sanctify them.

Syringa berry leaves is also hung at the entrance of the door and it is also placed under the bed sheet of the person having the ailment. As it’s been stated earlier, Mother Mariamman used the very same syringa berry leaves and turmeric powder to heal and cure the sick. The syringa leaves has great medicinal value and it is widely used in ayurvedic tonics. These leaves have antiseptic qualities. The

Turmeric powder is mixed with water and is given to the person with the ailment to drink daily. It serves as an antibiotic internally.

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After seven to nine days, when the sores have dried, a bath is given to the patient with turmeric water. On the same day, outside the house a korlam (pattern drawn with mealie meal or flour) is made for the patient to sit in, a vessel containing turmeric water and syringe leaves is turned around the head of the patient 3 times, a tray containing grounded rice balls is turned 3 times, camphor is lit and turned 3 times clockwise in the divine name of Maha Mariamman. Lastly 7 kinds of beans that have been boiled is turned around the patients head and thrown for the birds to eat.

Once the patient is completely healed, they must attend the temple of Mother Mariamman and give thanks & praise for Her Mercy and Grace.

Significance of Maavilakku (a Lamp made of grounded rice & ghee) as a sacred offering unto Shree Mariamman

The Maavilakku was offered to the Divine Mother Mariamman by Lord Vishnu to pacify her anger towards the sins or transgressions of mankind, as She wanted to infest the earth with pearls of small pox (Muthu Mari)

The Maavilakku is made out of grounded white rice, honey, butter and elatchi which is mixed together and then moulded into a lamp. In the centre of the lamp, a cotton wool wick soaked in ghee is placed and lit.

This Maavilakku is carried around the temple 3 times and then offered at the Lotus Feet of Shree Mariamman Shakthie to appease Her and pacify Her anger for our transgressions. Devotees who suffer from some diseases of the eye, mouth, ears, stomach, hand, leg etc. will make an offering of a Maavilakku unto Amma once they are cured. In the famous Samayapuram Mariamman Temple in South India, a very special ritual concerning the Maavilakku is performed. The cured person lies on his or her back in front of the Deity of Amma, a leaf is placed on the affected part of the person’s body. The Maavilakku is placed on the leaf and lit. After a while the Maavilakku is taken off and offered as prasadhum (blessed remnants). Please note that this divine Maavilakku does not have to be made in the month of Adhi only but it can be made at any time of the year and offered with sincere Love and devotion unto our Divine Mother Shree Mariamman Shakthie.

Who is Adhi Para-Shakthie and why is it necessary to worship Her apart from Her counterpart Lord Shiva?

Sastra or God inspired scripture reveals that Adhi Para-Shakthie is power or energy in action. This Shakthie of Lord Siva is not ordinary power – rather it is Divine /Supreme Power! Scripture further reveals this Shakthie to be the breath of Lord Siva. This is the Supreme Power or Great Breath by which God created the universe and it sheds more light on the scientists speculated theory of the birth of the universe” The Big Bang Theory”. If only scientists would improvise the wisdom of Sastras, which is God inspired scripture, with their research of the birth of our universe and the origination of all life forms, they will discard of all speculation and recognise that the energy and power that holds the universe together is nothing else but Supreme Energy, which is the breath of God Almighty – Lord Siva. This Divine Shakthie is the one who decorated the heavens and the earth. After moving over the darkness of the universe and brooding or hovering over it, Shakthie or Divine Energy of Lord Siva expanded forth everything into the vibrant varieties of thriving life and existence that we know of today.

Adhi Para-Shakthie is the Creator of the universe. Adhi means (Primal), Para means (Supreme), Shakthie is (Energy or Power). Thus, Duruga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Bhavani, Ambika, Kameshwarie, Rajeshwarie, Maha Mariamman – all these are Her Divine Forms. She is One Supreme Being expanded into a multitude of varied manifestations.

She is the Mother of all Creations. The pious and the wicked, the rich and the poor, the saint and the sinner are all her children. She is the energy in the sun. She is the fragrance in flowers, She is beauty in the landscapes – She is colour in the rainbow, intelligence in the mind, potency in homeopathic pills, power in the ayurvedic tonics, devotion in the lovers of God. Her manifestations are countless. The names that describe the personal aspects of Adhi Para-Shakthie are innumerable. When God speaks, Shakthie is the one who brings it to pass. Shakthie is the doer of the things of God Almighty. So when God wants to do something in your or my life, it will have to be by His Divine Energy or Shakthie. This is why we need this Para-Shakthie in our life today. When you receive Para-Shakthie and you allow Mother to take charge of your life, it doesn’t matter what your situation is, she will turn it around for your good. The same applies to other aspects of your life.

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As this Divine Supreme Energy is allowed to take control of your family, your business, your finances and your health, it doesn’t matter what troubles you’ve been experiencing or what’s been going wrong, you will begin to grow from strength to strength, from success to success, from greatness to greatness. Why? Because you are no longer operating on your limited natural strength but you are now operating through the unlimited supernatural energy and power of God, Adhi Para-Shakthie!


As soon as this Divine Shakthie takes over your life, She will drive every sickness and disease out of your body. She will make right everything that was wrong. She will remove every infirmity from your body and transform you into the vessel of the Most High God. You will operate in the divine and have your resources supplied by the storehouse of God Almighty, Shree Karu Mariamman Adhi Para- Shakthie!.

Finally, worship of the Universal Mother Shakthie gives you not only grace of prosperity in this natural world, but also grace for spiritual liberation from all bondage which leads to knowledge of the self and thus the knowledge of the God within us.

Shri Karu Mariamman Shakthie is all and everything and has complete dominion over everything in the physical and spiritual universes. She is the breath of the All supreme, Lord Siva. She can make or mar, mend or end, create and annihilate. No one can free himself from the clutches of mind and matter without Her divine Grace. The fetters of illusion are too hard to break off.

Through Her benign Grace and Favour we can easily go beyond this world, beyond the heavenly abodes and through Her infinite mercy and blessings, She leads us safely into the illimitable domain of eternal bliss and joy that surpasses all human understanding.

May the Divine Mother Mariammen and Lord Maduraiveeran forever be your guiding force. In her glorious name, Vanakam.  Here is a devotional prayer to the Divine Mother with the English transliteration.

Karpoora Nayagiye, kanaka valli,
Kali makamayi karumari amma,
Porkovil konda Shivakami Amma,
Poovirundavalli deivayanai amma,
Virkola veda valli vishalakshi,
Vizhikkola mamadurai meenakshi,
Chor kovil naan amaithen Ingu Thaye,
Sudaraga Vazhvippai ennai neeye.

Hey Lady of camphor, Hey golden tendril,
Hey Kali, Hey great enchantress, Hey goddess of black rain,
Hey darling of Shiva with a golden temple,
Hey climber with flowers, Hey holy goddess,
Hey damsel of Vedas with a bow, Hey broad eyed one,
And hey Meenakshi of Madhurai with enchanting eyes,
I have made here a temple of words for you,
And so make me live like a flame.

Bhuvanam muzhuvadum aluginra bhuvaneswari,
Puram erithon puram irukkum parameshwari,
Nava navamai vadivakkum maheswari,
Nambinavar Kai Vilakke Sarveswari,
Kavalaigal theerthu vidum Kaleswari,
Kar irulin thee chudare jyotheeswari,
Uvamana param porule jagadeeswari,
Unnadimai chiriyenai Aadhari.

Hey Bhuvaneswari, who rules the entire universe,
Hey Parameshwari, who is a part of Him who burnt the cities,
Hey Maheswari, who assumes newer and newer forms,
Hey Sarveshwari, who is the lamp in the hand of them who trust you,
Hey Kaleeswari, who removes all worries,
Hey Jyotheeswari, who is the flame in darkness,
And hey Jagadeeswari, who is the incomparable eternal thing,
Please encourage this base man who is your slave.

Unnidathil chollamal veru enda,
Uravidathil murai iduven thaye, endan,
Annaiaval nee irukka, ulagil matta,
Anniyarai kenchiduthal murayo amma,
Kanneerai thudaithu vida odi vaa amma,
Kathirukka vaithiduthal sario amma,
Chinnavalin kural kettu un mugam thiruppu,
Chirithapadi ennai dinam vazhi anuppu.

Without telling you my mother,
To which relative shall I complain?
When you as my mother is there,
Is it proper to entreat somebody else?
Please come running to wipe my tears, mother,
Is it proper to make me wait? mother,
Hearing the voice of this inferior one, turn your face to me, oh, mother,
And with happy smile, bid me fare well daily, mother.

Kan irandum un uruve kana vendum,
Kaal irandum uun adiye nada vendum,
Pan amaikkum naa unnai pada vendum,
Bhakthiyodu kai unnaye kooda vendum,
Ennam ellam uun ninaive aaga vendum,
Iruppathellam unnudaiyathu aaga vendum,
Man alakkum samaya pura mariyamma,
Maganudaya kuraigalyum theerum amma.

My two eyes should only see you,
My two legs should only come near you,
My tongue which composes music, should only sing about you,
My two hands should with devotion close only towards you,
All my thought should be filled with your name,
All the things with me should only become yours,
Hey goddess of pestilence who measures countries,
Please also fulfill my wants.

Nettiyil uun kumkumame niraya vendum,
Nenjil uun thirunamam vazhiya vendum,
Kathathellam men melum peruga vendum,
Kavithayil uun namam vazha vendum,
Chutham ellam needuzhi vazha vendum,
Jothiyile nee irundu aala vendum,
Mathadellam naan unakku chollalama,
Madi meedhu pillai ennai thallalama.

Your saffron should fill my forehead,
In my heart your name should fill and drip,
Whatever I have learnt should further get improved forever,
Your names should live in poems,
My relations should all have a very long life,
You should rule by being in the flame,
Is there a need for me to tell others,
Should you push me away who am sitting on your lap.

Annaikku upakaram Cheivathundo?
Arul cheyya inneram avathundo?
Kannukku imayayanri kavalundo?
Kanrukku pasuvanri sondamundo?
Munnaikkum pinnaikkum parpathundo?
Muzhumaikkum nee endan annaiyandro?
Ennaikkum vilakkukkum bedamundo?
Enraikkum nann uun pillaiyandro?

Does one do help to one’s mother?
Does the eye have protection other than eyelids?
For the calf, is there a relation except the cow?
Should one see what is before and what is after?
Are you not to the fullest extent, my mother?
Is there any difference between oil and the lamp?
Am I not your son always and forever?

Anbukku naan adimai Aaka vendum,
Arivukke en kadu ketka vendum,
Vambukke pokamal irukka vendum,
Vanchathai en nencham arukka vendum,
Panpukke uyir vazha aasai vendum,
Parivukke naan endrum paniya vendum,
En pakkam ivai ellam irukka vendum,

I should become a slave to affection,
My ears should open only for wisdom,
I should not interfere in unnecessary affairs,
My mind should cut off hatred,
I should like to live only for good things,
I should become always a slave for pity,
And all these should be on my side.

Kumbidavo kai irandum podavillai,
Koopidavo naa onral mudiyavillai,
Nambidavo meyyadanil shakthi illai,
Nadanthidavo kaal irandil aagavillai,
Sempavazha vaai azhagi uun ezhilo,
Chinna iru kankalukkul adangavillai,
Ambalavu vizhiyale, unnai endrum,
Adi paniyum aasaikor alavum illsi.

To salute you two hands do not suffice,
To call you one tongue does not suffice,
To believe in you, I do not have sufficient strength,
For walking, I am not able to do with two feet,
Your prettiness, beauty with red coral mouth,
Does not limit itself within my two eyes,
Hey Lady who has eyes like a bow,
There is no limit in my desire to become your slave.

Kattagi, kanalagi, kadalaginai,
Karuvagi, uyiragi, udal aginai,
Nethagi, inragi naalaginai,
Nilamagi, payiragi, unavaginai,
Thothalum, jayithalum vaazhvaginai,
Thozhthalum azhuthalum vadivaginai,
Pothada naalillai thaye unnai,
Porulodu pugazhodu vaippi ennai.

You became wind then fire and then sea,
You became fetus, then soul and the body,
You were yesterday, you became today and would become tomorrow,
You became land, then crop and then food,
Whether one looses or wins, you became life,
There is no day when I do not praise you,
Please keep me with wealth and fame.


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