Periya Mariamman koil of Ramanathapuram
Pookuzhi which literally means “Pit of Flowers” is the pit of burning embers kept free of ashes by fanning the pit. This is very common in many of the Mariyamman temples as well as Draupadi amman temples in Tamil Nadu. Normally male and female devotees after observing penance and drenched by bath of turmeric water , enter this Pookuzhi and walk through it. It is a great miracle nothing happens to any of them. But there is a Mariamman temple in Ramanathapuram town called Periya Mariyamman temple where entry in to the pookuzhi is banned to the fairer sex.. The temple believes that since the marriage of a girl is done with fire as witness, they should not enter the Pookuzhi. However the men who walk over the pookuzhi , take the burning embers from the pookuzhi by a spade and pour it over the heads of the female devotees who had observed penance. Nothing happens to any of the ladies.
This temple is situated is situated about half a km distance from the new Bus stand of Ramanathapuram town. It is believed that one very old king of the Sethupathi dynasty after he defeated the Mysore kings was attacked by small pox. The present temple at that time was situated in a locality called Alli kulam. The king as per the advice of people worshipped the goddess and was cured of the dreadful disease. One of his descendents called Ramanatha Sethupathi , joined three cultivation water reserves by a canal and diverted the income generated by it for the upkeep of this temple, Many Sethupathis then took lot of interest in the development of this temple. Slowly it became a bog temple and hence was called the Periya Mariamman temple. This goddess is very famous for curing of poxes, ensuring long married life as well gifting of progeny. Apart from Mariamman, this temple also has Gods like Durgai amman, Chandana Mariamman, Rakkachi Amman , Kurathi Amman, Lord Ganesa, Young lord Subramanya, , Karupannachami, Pathittu padi Karuppan and Kala BHairavar. There is alsoi a temple of snake pit and a temple dedicated to the old King Sethupathi who started it all. Ithi tree and Malai Vembu are the temple trees.
The temple is open from 6Am to 10 Am and 6 PM to 8 PM. However on Tuesdays and Fridays it is open from 6 Am to 2 Pm and 6 Pm to 9 Pm.
The main festival is the Festival of Pookuzhi which is held in Panguni (March-April) . Apart from this Chithra pournami festival , and Navarathri are celebrated in the temple . All Fridays of Adi month (July-August) and Thai (January-February ) are also festival days.