13 August 2009
SHAKTHI STHALAMS - SAMAYAPURAM MAARIAMMAN TEMPLE
The Maariamman Temple at Samayapuram in the vicinity of Tiruchirappalli is one of the well visited shrines in Tamilnadu, dedicated to Maariamman, a manifestation of the primeval energy Shakti as the mother Goddess.
Maariamman: Local variations of the worship of Shakti, the mother Goddess are seen throughout the Indian subcontinent. Mariamman is a form of Shakti worshipped in Tamilnadu, and is associated with prosperity and health. Local beliefs associate this deity with cures for diseases such as small pox and chicken pox. Legend has it that Shiva created Kali, out of the poison that he had swallowed, and decreed that he kill Daarukaasuran. Having originated from the Kaalakoota poison, she assumed the name Kaali. Mariamman is believed to be a form of Kaali, and is also known as Mahamaayi or Seethala Gowri.
Legends surrounding Samayapuram: Dasaratha, father of Rama is said to have worshipped here. It is believed that the processional image of Mariamman was in the possession of the Vijayanagar monarchs and that as their empire neared destruction, this image was brought down to Tamilnadu in an ivory palanquin. It is believed that the palanquin bearers placed image on the ground and paused for rest, and then found themselves to be unable to lift it off the ground. A temple was then established in the vicinity of Tiruchirappalli, which was later expanded by Vijayaranga Chokkanatha Nayak of Madurai of the 18th century. Samayapuram was a local capital of the Vijayanagar rulers in the vicinity of Tiruchirappalli, and was known as Vikramapuram.
The Temple: This temple has separate shrines for the processional image of Mariamman and the moolavar in the sanctum. There is also a shrine to Karuppannasaami a local deity.
Festivals: Several worship services are offered throughout the day here. Offerings of salt, jaggery (brown sugar), lentils, jewelry are made by devotees. Annual festivals are celebrated during Thai Poosam, and in the tamil months of Pankuni and Chittirai. The last Sunday of Pankuni marks the commencement of the festival, while the chariot festival is celebrated on the first Tuesday in the month of Chittirai, and the float festival is celebrated a week later.