One such form of devotion to the Hindu goddess Mariamman is the singing of the Mariamman Thalattu a lullaby accompanied by fast-playing of a small drum.Mari, Mariyamma and Marikamba, all refer to the popular Hindu village goddess of South Indian Hindus. While most of the people believe that she is the goddess Kali, created by goddess Parvathy to kill Raktha Bheeja or the form of Renuka Devi who was the mother of Parasurama, some people believe that she is Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas and yet others believe that she is Vasugi, the wife of Thiruvalluvar.
Mostly her form in the temple is ferocious where she is considered as a goddess who would punish, if not propitiated properly. Māri also is known as Mariamman and Mariaai, both meaning “Mother Mari”, spelt also Maariamma, or simply Amman or Aatha (“mother”) is the South Indian Hindu goddess of the rain. She is the main South Indian mother goddess, predominant in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu. Māri is closely associated with the Hindu goddesses Parvati and Durga as well as with her North Indian counterpart Shitala Devi. Her festivals are held during the late summer/early autumn season of “Aadi” throughout the Tamil Nadu with the largest being Aadi Thiruvizha. Her worship mainly focuses on bringing rains and curing diseases like cholera, smallpox, and chickenpox. Mariamman is worshipped in accordance with the local Agamas as Pidari or the Gramadevata.
Mariamman is very popular in South India. She is considered as the protector (kaval deivam) by many people residing in South India.
So why sing the lullaby Mariamman Thalattu?
One such form of devotion to the goddess is the singing of “Mariamman Thalattu” (Lullaby to Mariamman) accompanied by the fast-playing of a small drum. The song written in a folk music style does not obey any rules of lullabies except that it is aimed at soothing the Mariamman rather than the baby.
The language used is not literal Tamil but spoken Tamil. It is believed to be ancient but references to instruments like Clarinet (a western musical instrument), reference to the invasion of Marathas etc indicate that additions to the lullaby took place as per the local times and the imaginative approach of the singer. The lullaby starts with a prayer to Ganesha and then prayer to Goddess Saraswathi. A request is made to her for help in singing the story of Mari.
Though not written in the stotra style, the lullaby sings the praise of Goddess Mari, mentions her various forms, mentions her companions, mentions the acts of devotees for getting her favour, contains in various places of her worship, prayer to her to remove the smallpox eruptions from the body etc.
More than being poetic, it clearly brings out the utter devotion and the colossal fear in the mind of her devotees.
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