One of the most ancient and grandest festivals of the South Indian Community, the Mariamman prayer festival, 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 destival.
The concept of Mother worship has existed since time immemorial, Shakthi as the divine Mother, is portrayed as cosmic energy in her dynamic form.
Being the Mother of the universe, she is ever ready to heed the call of her devotees. As such, in an instance, did this force manifest as Muthu Mari Amman, Muthu (Pearl); Mari (Rain); Amman (Mother), thus being titled as the Mother of Rain, that which is more precious than pearls.
In a time of great drought, a time when people were plagued with measles, mumps, small pox 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 mysterious woman garbed in yards of yellow sarie, carrying a pot of fermented porridge and a bunch of syringa leaves.
She suddenly descended on the State of Samayapuram, in the district of Thiruvekardu, in South India. Here, She fed the ill with the sacred porridge and nursed them with a mixture of syringa leaves and turmeric paste. She continued healing the sick at the speed of light 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 Atha(Aunt).
They found Her seated under a Syringa (Verpallai) Tree. They humbly 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 Supreme Mother of the universe, the feminine aspect of Godhead who is the Divine Mother of Rain, agriculture and prosperity. She further requested that every year, in the time that She appeared, Her devotees gather in great numbers, worship Her with praise and thanksgiving, and distribute freely divinely blessed porridge etc. to everybody assembled and She promised to be their guiding and protecting force and that She will neither leave nor forsake Her devotees.
She suddenly disappeared leaving torrents of rain to bathe the earth and aid the growth of flora and vegetation. Thus she became known as Samayapuram Mariatha and Her divine scripture, which is the recording of the spoken words of the Supreme Mother, the Mariamman Thalathu. It is, therefore, in this great month of Adhi (July-August) that the Mother Mariamman is venerated as the protector and the healer of all sufferings and miseries of the nations of the world.
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.
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?
The Shastra – 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.
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 our Supreme Divine Mother Karu Mariamman Adhi ParaShakthie forever be your guiding light – never leaving nor forsaking you for all of your days here and beyond.
This article provided by the Pretoria Tamil League. Visit their temple in Pretoria, see information below.
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