Monday, February 22, 2010

Chithakoor Ayyanar (Sevuga Perumal)

Ayyanar is the main guardian deity of the villages of Tamil Nadu. Normally this imposing terracotta figure is seen in the boundary of the village. Surrounding him would be the colorful terracotta war steeds. In some temples the idols of Poorna and Pushkala who are his consorts are also present. Along with him normally Goddess Karuppu (black) is also present. He is also called Kari, Purathuvan, Kadal vannan, Chathan, Poosanaikelvan, Putkalai manavalan, Masathan, Kondayuthan, Arihara kumaran etc.
Chithakoor is a small village in the Pudu kottai district of Tamil Nadu near Avudayar Kil. He presides over more than one hundred villages surrounding Chithakoor. He is called Sevuga Perumal ayyanar( Ayyanar who is a servant god)
It seems he was once upon a time the presiding deity of Singanam puri which is about 80 km from Chithakoor. One day he rode on his war steed and reached Chithakoor. He liked the pleasant environment of Chithakoor. He tied his horse near the water source of the village and went in to the village, knocked the doors of rich people and told them, “ I have decided to stay near your water source. Please build a hut for me.” When they refused to believe it seems he told, “Tomorrow, you go to the water source . You will find my steed there. ”At the strike of morn the entire village rushed to the water source and saw the statue of the horse,. Then they realized that the man who came and woke them up was indeed Ayyanar. They immediately started the job of building a hut and started collecting leaves and sticks for that purpose. It seems one stranger who was passing through the village that day , happened to take one of those sticks. It seems he lost his eye sight as soon as he came out of the village. He ran to the water source and told Ayyanar that it was his mistake. He promised to return 1000 sticks instead of the one stick he has taken. It seems he regained his eye sight. From then onwards , the villagers realized that their Ayyaanar was a very serious God and would punish them if they do a mistake. Even to this day he is the court of last resort to all the villagers of Chithakoor. Whenever they have a problem regarding another person they go to the temple of Ayyanar , pay Rs 12.50 and lodge a complaint on either a Tuesday or Friday.. It seems their problem is immediately solved. Since people believe that the punishment of Ayyanar is terrible, they tell the truth in front of him, ask an apology if they have committed a mistake etc.
Several miraculous events are supposed to have happened the village. It seems once their water source went dry. All villagers went and complained to the Ayyanar. The Samiyadi (person in whom God has entered) entered in to a trance and asked them, “Do you want a rain or do you want your water source to be filled up?”. It seems the villagers chose the second alternative. Next day morning their water source was full without a single drop of rain.
Chithakoor Ayyanar it seems is very particular about his dues. It seems one day, he appeared in the dream of a rich man and asked him, “Why have not the given me bath with the orange which was given by a devotee?”. Next day the rich man rushed to the temple located the orange and got the sacrificial bath done.
The Ayyanar statue at this place has a whip in his hand. ,He is surrounded by Pooranam and Pushkalam , who are his consorts. On his right side there is a temple for Big Karuppu and Small Karuppu and surrounding the temple are Adambur Kali, Sannasi, Sidhi Vinayaga, Anjaneya, Valli etc. It seems initially Ayyanar was housed in a thatched shed. One day he appeared in the dream of a villager and wanted him to build a tiled temple for him. This was immediately carried out.
The temple festival is on Chithra Pournami day. Ten days before the festival Ayyanar is taken to his original village Singanampuri.


Any body who have traveled in to Tamil Nadu must have seen lot of roofless temples (mostly terracotta figures ) established near the entrance of most villages. They might have also seen the temples dedicated to the Goddess of pestilence –Mari , in the middle of the village.
Most of these Gods do not form a part of the pantheon of Hindu Gods. They have a great role to play in the day to day life of the villages. They

1.Are the Gods that guard the village from robbers, epidemics, pestilence and enemies.
2,Are the judge of the last resort to the villagers,
3.Are Gods that control rain fall.
4.Are Gods that cure the domestic animals of their diseases.

The faith of the villager in these Gods is more than 100%. Their devotion to these Gods is tinged with fear. Another very interesting facts about these Gods is that their priests are not Brahmins. Alcohol , meat. Cigars etc are offered to these gods as the sacrificial offering. Apart from the priest , there are individuals called Samiyadi attached to these temples. During the village festivals these Samiyadis go on a trance and answer all queries of the villagers. Even to this day sacrificial offering of goat, sheep, chicken , buffalo are done to appease these Gods. I am not an expert on them. Whatever facts that I give about these Gods are my own summary taken from two great publications in Tamil. They are
Bhaarathi kanthan (2006) Nalla Chethi chollum Sami, New Horizon publishers, Madras
Kula.Shanmuga Sundaram(2006) Yellai Chamigal Part I and II, Vikatan publishers, Madras

Male deities
Some of the most important male deities are Ayyanar, Karuppu sami, Madurai veeran, Sudalai madan, Muneswaran, ellaiamman etc.
Out of them attempts have been made to link Ayyanar with God Shastha(ayyappan) who is the son of Shiva and Vishnu. He normally appears along with his wives Poorna and Pushkala.

Female deities
The most important female deity is Mari. Other important female deities are Angala Parameshwari, Nalla Thangal, Katteri Amman, Mutharamman, Pechi Amman etc.
Out of them attempt has been made to identify Mari with Durga or Kali and Pechiamman with Goddess Saraswathi.
Almost each and every village in Tamil Nadu have their own village Gods. Some times a single God is shared by several villages. Daily worship is rare but usually festivals are held with great fan fare. Persons belonging to that village come to these festivals wherever they are in the world. Each of these temples have their own stories. But examining them, we will find that the incidents narrated in the story are almost common. For examples, some village gods come to the village and appear in the dreams of the villagers, some others come floating in the river etc.
I am trying to give in a summary form stories of as many deities that I can read in the above two books as well as in some web sites.