(Last Updated on : 28/01/2011)
Mari is represented as a beautiful young woman with a red-hued face, wearing a red dress. Mariamma is represented in a sitting posture with four hands, in which she holds a kind of drum called Damaru, a trident called Sula, a bundle of ropes called Pasa and a skull. Mari is said to be the Goddess of Disease. She was considered the smallpox goddess before this disease was eradicated. Now she cures all so-called heat-based diseases like pox and rashes. Mari is also considered to be the Fertility goddess. It is considered that goddess Mari originated as a village goddess related to fertility and rain.
An annual festival is celebrated in her honour, which lasts eight days. The image of Goddess Mari is carried about every morning and evening. There is a procession carrying lights. In the night, the followers carry oil lamps in procession, which is a beautiful sight. The men bring goats, swine, and cocks, and behead them before the idol. They ask the goddess to protect them in the coming year from all evil. At this same time Rupakas are acted, and there is much dancing. Mariamman was also considered as the goddess of smallpox before the disease got eliminated from the country. People worship her in order to be cured off "heat-based" diseases like pox and rashes.
The temples dedicated to Goddess Mari are village shrines where non-Brahmin act as the priests. Some temples have attained enough popularity like the Samayapuram temple in Trichy. Other important temples in Tamil Nadu
are in the towns of Veerapandi, Theni, and Sivakasi and many other towns.
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