Worship of Shakti
among the Dravidians
is offered to those Goddesses who have not been incarnated and have no fixed temple or image as such. They are fierce. The Shakti ceremonies in the Dravidian worship are totally different from the Shakti puja of the Tantras. These ceremonies are more terrifying than the Shakti ceremonies found in Hinduism
. The worship of these deities is propitiation in order to prevent their doing some evil.
While the village deity is worshipped it is feared that Shaktis will be watching and out of jealousy may do some harm. In order to prevent such consequences the Shaktis are propitiated at midnight. This is done after the day when the sacrificial buffalo was killed. An outsider is brought to the place where the sacrifice is done. His body is smeared with blood from the beheaded buffalo, winds the intestines around his neck, and takes the liver in his mouth. A pot that contains food is soaked in blood that is placed in his hands. This is accompanied by men armed with sticks and old swords and then proceeds towards the village boundaries.
As this procession moves the inmates remain in deathlike stillness for fear of the Shaktis and evil spirits which are hovering over the procession. The men shout and flourish their swords and sticks to keep off these spirits. The man who carries the bloody offering is held up by ropes and even then often falls to the ground, saying that he sees the spirits. When he falls, limes are cut in two halves and are thrown into the air and lambs are sacrificed on the spot. The man recovers from his pretended collapse and the procession moves forward. After arriving at the village boundary, the bloody rice is left as an offering and the man who carried it divests himself of his bloody trappings. Often he is carried to the temple of the village goddess where water is poured over him to revive him. The bloody rice is scattered to keep out the Shaktis.
At times Shaktis are worshipped individually. The gruesome ceremonies are aimed at pacifying the anger of the Shakti. Among these Kati Ankamma is a major deity. She is the Shakti of the place where the dead are buried. It is believed that she lives on corpses. She also sets fire to houses and finds pleasure in killing cattle. The worship is done by one or two households in union. This is done when there has been some unusual trouble which may be attributed to Kati Ankamma. The household gods are taken to the water in the evening and it is kept submerged all night. The pujari comes next day with the musicians as well as with the people who are possessed by demons. After removing the gods from the water they burn incense and sacrifice a sheep.
The next day the worship of Kati Ankamma begins, and is of short duration, for it is not pleasant enough to be extended any longer than is actually necessary. The Madiga story-teller goes to the burial ground accompanied by the people in whose interest the worship is conducted, together with a crowd from the village. The story-teller disguises him as a woman, for he has no desire to be recognized by any of the other deities as the one who did honour to the Shakti. He takes earth and with the help of cotton makes it stick together without much delay, he makes a rude image.
Donga Shakti is one of the Shaktis. The word Donga means thief. It is considered that skilfully she comes and kills the cattle for her own benefit and accounts for her name. She is worshipped at night as she is believed to be an enemy to gods and men. Worshipping her is considered as the last resort. The ceremonies take place in the night and it is over before daylight. Women do not stay near by. Only brave men are present.
Nadividhi Shakti is another form of Shakti. Nadvidhi means ` the middle street.` It is believed that she comes into the very centre of the village to ruin. A goat is sacrificed which is an offering and charms are performed until it is thought the Shakti has consented to enter the image. The household gods are propitiated while worshipping the Shakti. Then there is the buffalo sacrifice and a large number of sheep and goats are also killed. Blood is sprinkled over her. In the early morning after the day of sacrifice the potter places the image in a basket after another goat has been sacrificed. The potter carries the basket and a few men escort them.