(Last Updated on : 30/08/2011)
Goddess Mathamma is worshipped by the Madigas community. All other castes fear her and contribute to her worship. However Madigas are very poor thus her worship is less elaborate as compared to other goddesses. She is represented by a small stone image in a small shrine. A buffalo is arranged for the jatara and turned loose until the appointed day. The image is bathed and a sheep is offered. The buffalo sacrifice is performed as usual along with ceremonies already described. On the last day the Madiga pujari cuts off its head before the idol and holding it by the legs, brushes away the muggu before the idol. This removes the last traces of the evil which may come from Mathamma.
Mathamma's other form is Goddess Matangi
. Matangi is a Madiga woman who is possessed with the spirit of Mathamma. She is an interesting character in this Dravidian worship. Selection of a new Matangi is an important ritual. The Matangi holds her position for life and her successor is not chosen until she dies. One can make the choice by bringing all the unmarried girls of the village before the shrine of Mathamma. Thereafter songs are sung, drums are beaten loudly and the goddess is summoned to fall upon the chosen one. Immediately a girl will act as if possessed with the spirit and it is implicated that the choice has fallen on her. There are other sufferings for the new Matangi to pass. It seems that the test is done to whether she shall be able to control herself when the possession comes upon her. She is seated on the sacred muggu beside buttermilk and four other pots of buttermilk are placed around her. Strings are tied from the pots to the roof which is kept so very close to her that if she moves she will spill the buttermilk. The possession is invoked thereafter. If she is successful then she is invested with the sign of her position, a basket, a snake-headed bamboo stick, a bunch of margosa leaves and a rope with cowrie shells attached.
The ceremonies have several variations. Some times it is seen that if a woman sits apart and acts oddly they say the possession is coming upon her and she has to undergo various tests. Matangi is mainly worshipped in a village called Malinthapadu, near Cumbum in the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. Every Matangi must come here for final initiation. Heavy expenses need to be incurred by the Matangi or those sending her. She receives lot of gifts from people. The initiation is performed by Brahmans. The candidates are placed in a row before the goddess Ellamma. Goddess Ellamma is the original form of Mathamma. There are sacred symbols on the face of the Goddess after which a buffalo is killed as an offering to the Goddess. The ceremonies continue for five days when Ellamma's spirits have fully come upon the Matangis.
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