Sunday, May 24, 2009

We all have a Divine Mother

We all have a Divine Mother

Recently, I accompanied my family to a suburb of Coimbatore where my wife's friend had invited us to attend a temple function. I thought it was one of those temples of some small colonies. I came humbled after that visit.

First, what struck me was the scale of the festival. The entire village or rather township was involved in it. The temple was dedicated to Bhadra Kali Amman. The place is a village right inside Coimbatore city called Uppilipalayam. The entire population of the village rever Bhadra Kali. The festival was 'poochhaattu'- a function held once in three years for this Devi.

The temple is a spacious one surrounded by streets on two sides. The festival was made attractive by the stall selling flowers, toys, condiments and pooja items. Look at a street here.

There is a typical custom in Amman and Kali temples in Tamilnadu. That is the offering of a sweet meat (maavilakku) made of rice flour and jaggery (or sugar). The wet paste of the two are made into a cup shape and oil is poured into the sunken area and a lamp is lit with a cotton wick. The entire womanfolk of the village carried the 'Maavilakku' . Look at this cute Tamil girl carrying the maavilakku ! What a tasteful decoration !

I tried to analyze the crowd regarding their particular caste. This village has a mixture of Naidu, Vellala Gounders,brahmins, Thevars, Viswakarmas, Devendra Kula Vellalars, and many shades of harijans. Looking around the temple, I could see huge banners welcoming the visitors on behalf of each community.

A small word here. Each caste mentioned above has their own kula devata. The Naidus are staunch Vaishnavites too. But , here they were, standing shoulder to shoulder honouring their divine mother ! Once the temple flag is hoisted indicating the poochchaattu, no one stays out of the village beyond the evening. No one even attends any condolences like death , visiting the bereaved etc.

I myself has a kuladevata by name Chandamma Devi, who is the presiding Devi in a village near Kolhapur where my ancestors lived. Likewise, whomever I asked, everyone had a kula devata in the form of an Amman . The only exception being the Sri Vaishnavas. But Sri Vaishnavism is just a 1,000 year old tradition and before that every Hindu must have had the divine mother as a kula devata.

And the divine mother sits there in the middle of the village blessing every visitor. I now realize this - That everyone of us has a Divine Mother too.