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
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.
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.