Mariamman festival in Adi Annamalai
After the one hundred thousand lamp festival a few weeks ago, the village of Adi Annamalai on the Girivalam road is once again a venue for yet another festival dedicated to the resident Mother Goddess of the region. The first day of the festival dawns with the ceremony of the Kooluthal meaning distribuition of porridge. Kool or Ragi porridge is prepared in every house and then poured inside the huge temple cauldron and left to ferment overnight. The next morning it is distributed to one and all as prasad.
During the day, there takes place a dance ritual known as Karagattam. In this, a group of male dancers with bells tied around their feet and huge decorated pots balanced on their heads go dancing around the streets of the village accompanied by a band of folk musicians. These dancers on this day are believed to be embodiments of the Goddess and they are honoured in each house with women coming out and washing their feet with turmeric water and prostrating themselves on the ground. Camphor arathi is also performed as is the custom for any temple deity.
In the evening there is a huge abhishekam ceremony performed to the Mariamman deity of the local temple. Here the traditional temple musicians with their beautiful nadaswarams and mridangam instruments, sit in a circle on the temple courtyard and play with great devotion throughout the evening, adding to the religious fervour and energy. Devotees throng in large numbers to take darshan and also to enjoy the music. Late at night, the Goddess is borne outside in procession and taken through all the streets of the village. The villagers come out, enthralled, to worship Her even at that late hour for it is indeed a rare occasion to receive the Goddess right in front of their houses.