Samayapuram Mariamman Temple

Introduction

Samayapuram Mariamman temple is one of the renowned temples where goddess Mariamman is worshipped.

Temple Location

The temple is located in Samayapuram about 15 kms from Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. Trichy is well connected by roadways, railways and airways. Good numbers of government buses operate to the temple at regular intervals.

The temple is open from 5.00 am to 11.00 am and again from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm.

Temple History

Mariamman temple is an ancient temple. The temple was built by King Vijayaraya Chakravarthi in the 18th Century. During the period of 17th-18th Century, Tiruchirapalli was ruled by the Vijayanagar rulers. The rulers had committed to build a temple for the deity, provided they won the war. As the Vijayanagar rulers won the war, they built the temple for goddess Mariamman. Samayapuram was also known as Kannanur, Kannanpuram, Vikramapuram and Mahalipuram in ancient times. The management and administration of the temple is with the government of Tamil Nadu. Plans are also afoot to build a five tier gopuram(tower) on the west and a seven tier gopuram in the east, besides a separate place for Angapradikshina (rolling over the ground around the sanctum) and a golden chariot to move within the prakarma. Kumbhabhishekam is planned in the mid of 2015.

The Deity

The main deity (moola vigraha), is made of sand and clay, unlike deities in other temples. Thus Abhishekam is performed to the small deity located in front of the main deity and not to the Moola Vigraha.  The goddess is visible from the main entrance itself.

The present idol was earlier located at Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam. It is said that one of the chief priests at the temple felt that the image of Mariamman was the cause for his illness. Thus he asked the idol to be moved to another place. The idol was moved out of Srirangam and some of the passersby saw the idol and installed at Tiruchirapalli and named Her as Kannanur Mariamman.

Significance

The deity blesses Her devotees with good health and prosperity. Parents of children suffering from chicken pox, small pox offer prayers at the temple. Devotees light a lamp known as Maavilakku, a lamp made out of flour, jaggery and ghee and offer it to the goddess. Several diseases are cured without any medicine. Abhisheka theertha, the holy water used to bathe the deity is sprinkled on the people suffering from chicken pox and small pox which is said to speed up the recovery. The goddess has enormous healing powers. Thus people from all walks of life visit the temple seeking cure for their illness. Devotees buy small replicas of body parts made in silver that needs to be cured and offer it to the deity. It is believed that such an offering will cure their illness. Devotees offer curd and rock salt to the deity seeking cure for chicken pox or small pox.

Puranic Reference

Goddess Mariamman is considered to be an incarnation of goddess Kali. Goddess Mariamman is also known as Mahamaayi or Seethala Gowri. King Dasharatha, father of Lord Rama is said to have worshipped goddess Mariamman. King Vikramaditya who ruled Ujjain prayed to goddess Mariamman and took bath at the Kalyani or tank located near the temple.

The utsava moorthy of the deity was in possession of the Vijayanagar rulers. When the Vijayanagar Empire was nearing downfall, the utsava moorthy was brought to Tamil Nadu in an Ivory Palanquin. As the palanquin bearers wanted to rest for a while, they placed the palanquin on the ground. After a while, when they tried to raise the palanquin, they could not lift it. Thus a temple was built, which was later expanded by the Vijayaranga Chokkanatha Nayak of Madurai of the 18th century. In the ancient days, Samayapuram was the capital of Vijayanagar rulers. Samayapuram was known as Vikrampuram.

There are separate shrines for the moola vigraha and the utsava moorthy of goddess Mariamman. There is another shrine for the local deity, Karuppannasaami.

Festivals and Rituals

A chariot festival known as Chithirai begins on the first Tuesday of Chaitra Masa (April- May). It is celebrated for thirteen days. The car festival with Devi Samayapuram Mariamman in the chariot is held on the tenth day and the festival draws thousands of devotees from neighbouring States. Special arrangements are made to accommodate the crowd during the festival. Additional bus services to nearby towns and cities are made by the government to facilitate the devotees.

Poo Choridal meaning showering the deity only with flowers is celebrated on the last Sunday of Masi (February- March). Goddess Mariamman keeps a fast for twenty eight days in the month of Masi (February- March) for the welfare of Her devotees. During this period, the deity is not offered any cooked food as neivedhya. Only tender coconut water, fruit juice, Thullu Mavu, made out of flour is offered as neivedhya to the deity. During these days the goddess is showered with flowers only. On the last Sunday of the month, there is a huge gathering when Poo Choridal is celebrated with great fervour. Brahmotsavam is held in April when lakhs of devotees throng the temple. Special Pujas are held on Tamil New Year day, Deepavali and Pongal. Navaratri during Purattasi (September- October) is celebrated for nine days. The deity is dressed in nine different alankaras on each of the nine days.

Float festival is held for eleven days during January- February. Vaikasi Panchaprakaram is another festival that is celebrated in a grand way.  The festival observed during May- June draws lakhs of devotees from far off places.

The months of Adi (July- Aug) and Thai (January- February) is considered very auspicious. Special Pujas are held on every Tuesday and Friday, as it is considered very auspicious to worship the goddess on these two days. Full Moon days and new Moon days are also auspicious for worshipping the deity.

During festivals, people engage in unusual activities such as walking bare foot on red hot coal, or piercing their bodies or holding hot mud vessel in bare hands.