The story behind Marieamman

One of the grandest festivals of the South Indian community, the Mariammen prayer, will be observed this year between July 17 and August 16. 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.

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 and in the district of Thiruvekardu.

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.

During this period the sanctified food tastes especially delicious and there is intense unity among all, and the regular showers of the rain remind us of Her everlasting presence.

May the Divine Mother Mariammen and Lord Maduraiveeran forever be your guiding force. In her glorious name, Vanakam.