The focus of the song, however, is not Gingee town, nor is it simply the more celebrated Gingee Fort, along side of which the town grew up and in a sense outlasted as an administrative center once the fort was finally abandoned in 1761 after over five centuries of dramatic history. Though the song certainly evokes the royal splendors and horrors of Gingee's past, it focuses above all on a small village called Melacceri, which lies about three miles to the north of the Gingee Fort. This village is still known as "Old Gingee" and has traces of ancient fortifications estimated to have been built around A.D. 1200 and to antedate the first constructions of the Gingee Fort proper. It is here in Melacceri that the world of the Draupadi cult has its tenuous foothold in both history and myth.
The songs dedicated to Draupadi have eighteen verses. The reason as to why the songs have eighteen verses because it can be said that Mahabharata had eighteen parvas and also the war of Mahabharata had continued for eighteen days. Not only these but according to mythology eighteen is also the classical number of weapons which Goddess Durga holds in her eighteen arms.
It can be said about the song that in many places the song has moved away from the Draupadi cult of Mahabharata and establishes a cult of its own.
The Pucari songs can be classified as (1) allusions to the classical (Tamil as well as Sanskrit) Mahabharata; (2) "folk" modifications of this "classical" epic tradition; and (3) deepening evocations of the Hindu goddess.
The songs also deepen Draupadi's identification as a form of the goddess, both mythologicaly and cosmologically. Variant verses of the dramatists' song and verses of the pucari songs connect her with the lion: ultimately the mount of the warrior goddess Durga, but also, more locally in South Indian villages, the vehicle of various "village goddesses" headed by Mariyamman.
The pucari songs highlight Draupadi's associations with fire. It is usually the pucaris who play the most prominent ritual roles in the fire walking ceremonies that culminate Draupadi festivals. And it is also no coincidence that it is through images of fire that the goddess is invoked in her cosmic and most salvific forms.
(Last Updated on : 25-02-2011)
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