Significance of the Porridge

The Mariamman festival has various aspects to it.
It has been said that this divine Mother had healed the sick with fermented porridge. The question that one would ask 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 system.

How to prepare the porridge

The porridge is prepared by taking a required amount of mealie meal and soaking it in a pot of water for a period of 9 days for it to ferment. On the tenth day the 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, dhania and salt is added to the porridge and mixed.

Porridge is either poured into 9 glasses or offered into 1 container which is offered to Amma before consuming. It is said that when this porridge is consumed after offering it to Amma it contains a special power which can heal any internal sickness.

Another meaning to the word “Mari” in Tamil is small pox.

This ailment is considered a visitation from the Goddess. When a child has this ailment one should keep the child in an isolated room which must be kept clean. All shoes must removed a brass vessel containing turmeric water and syringa berry leaves is places at the doorway so that outsiders may sprinkle the water on them before entering room this is to purify themselves.

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. It is said that Mariamman used the very same syringa berry leaves and turmeric powder to heal the sick. The syringa berry tree has great medical value and it widely used in ayurvedic medicine. These leaves have antiseptic qualities.

The turmeric powder is mixed with water and given to the person to drink it serves as an antibiotic internally. After 7 to 9 days if the sores dried, a bath is given to the patient with turmeric water. On the same day outside the house a korlam is made for the patient sit in, a vessel containing turmeric water and syringa berry leaves is turned around the head of the patient 3 times, a tray containing grounded rice is turned 3 times, camphor is lit and turned 3 times clockwise in the name of Mariamman.

Lastly, 7 kinds of beans that have been boiled is turned around the patients head and thrown on the roof for the birds to eat. Once the patient is completely healed one should visit the temple and give thanks to the Mother.