THE NEW YORK MARI-AMMAN KOIL WELCOMES YOU
Begins Promptly at 11:00 AM on Sundays
"Ahyerang kannudaiyall alangkaare vaarumammaa"
("Oh Goddess of a thousand eyes, and the most beautiful, please come.")
From the Mariamman Thalattu
Overview of Mari Amman Culture & Worship
Tamils are descendants of the ancient Dravidians, had their own Gods and traditions, whose worship still live on today in the rural villages of Tamil Nadu. This form of worship has even been carried on throughout the Tamil Diaspora worldwide. These ancient traditions date back as far back as 8,000 years, since the dawn of the agricultural age.
In ancient South India, people had their own concept of Gods. They wanted Gods to protect them from the fury of nature and epidemics and give them a very happy and content family life. It was these people who developed the concept and worship of village Gods. At that time, there was no concept of moksha and liberation, only survival.
The early Dravidian religion was historically Agamic, or a non-Vedic form of Hinduism. The Agamas are a collection of manuscripts written in Tamil, which precisely constitutes the methods of temple construction and creation of murtis and idols. These texts have complex ways of representing deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of desires and other common spiritual and non-spiritual rituals and practices.
Since these times, the mother goddess, Mari Amman is venerated as the supreme. This mother goddess was conceived as a virgin and is seen as one who has given birth to all and is typically identified with today’s Shaktism. She is the direct manifestation of Shiva, who represents creation and dissolution. For Shakti devotees, natural energy, vibration and manifestation are an integral part of her worship.
Ancient texts also indicated that Mari Amman is identified with ancient mother goddess, Mangai, the mother of Kandasami. Her qualities were all nature itself, the land, the rivers, the sun, wind, fire and rain. She is all of creation, the mother of all gods too, she represents the creation and dissolution of everything.
The villages in South India “belong to” the goddess. She is thought to be there before the village and to have created it. Sometimes she is represented only by a head, indicating that her body is the village and she is rooted in the soil there. The villagers live inside or upon the body of the goddess. She protects the village and is the guardian of the village boundaries.
Tamil guardian spirits are known as Kaval Deivam. These are non‐Agamic gods, that were established before the introduction of Vedas, not found in Vedic texts, nor rituals performed by Vedic priests.
Mari Amman is also known as Kula Theivam for many families in Tamil Nadu. The worship of the family deity is passed down from generation to generation. For many Tamilians, the worship of the Kula Theivam is conducted before any other major religious function, celebration or event.
As part of the Mari Amman and Kula Theivam worship, Sami Aduthal or trance dancing occurs. It is an ancient form of dancing that was documented in Sangam literature over 2,000 years ago. In addition, the Pambai/Uddukai and Parai Drumming or Thappu and the chanting of the Mari Amman Thalattu invokes and commands the presence of deities where men and women experience the God/Goddess manifest through them. During this time, devotees worship their Kula Deivams while the poosai is being performed and seek remedies for day to day worries.
Village and Local Gods
The Warrior gods, like Ayanar or Karuppasami will be placed on the outskirts, to better protect from outside dangers. Some are warriors elevated to hero status and called upon now to bring protection, like Madhurai Veeran, a Tamil hero, elevated to Guardian. Some of the village gods are guardians for Siva and Parvati (sages turned into warriors). Today, painted terracotta (clay) figures are often used to represent these gods and protectors.
Among the early Dravidians and continuing throughout the Sangam period, the Tamilian people practice the erecting of memorial stones for village gods known as “Nadukal or Veerakals.” Even today, it is customary for people who sought victory in war to worship these Veerakals to bless them with victory. Many of these deities continue to be worshipped in various forms and names. This includes people who lived and lost their lives for their community and hence their community members still remember them and worship them. This group also includes persons who were killed by injustice and hence were worshipped in order to save the village from their wrath. The worship for the fallen brave warriors is one of the popular forms of worship. Any person who stood for justice and valiantly fought for justice or lost their life for the cause of justice have become part of Hero Stone worship. These types of worship are considered more of an ancestral type of worship.
Other than literary sources, the practice of folk festivals, shamanism, ritual theater and natagams which are unique to each region sheds light on ancient beliefs of early Dravidian people. There are traces of its origins to ancient Dravidian religion which has influenced the Shakti cults and other local gods subservient to Mari Amman, such as;
Karuppanna Sami/Sangili Karuppan, is the God of Justice. He has no tolerance of evil. He is both a protective warrior, and one who can grant the requests of the village people and punishes evil doers. He can easily be appeased and usually grant favors to devotees. He is also the guardian of the outer boundaries of the village and the hills.
Muneshwaren Sami, was associated with protecting people, drinking devil's blood, doing good things, bringing in good-effect. He protects the Village by chasing away evil spirits.
Madhurai Veeran Sami. His primary role is to guard the Mari Amman temple. He is an ancestral God. He is able to grant his devotees protection and guidance in resolving daily troubles’ in one’s life. He can easily be appeased by appropriate offerings and devotion.
Muniandi refers to the Munis worshipped by the Tamils. The Munis are a group of male guardians which are classified as Siva Gana, attendants of Siva and Parvati. The Munis could refer to former warriors, kings or sages who achieved the status of a Muni after their human death.
Tamils who have migrated to Africa, the Pacific, Europe, North America, South America and the Caribbean over the past two hundred years have taken their Gods, Worship and Culture with them. Despite them being away from their motherland, they still manage to preserve this ancient worship which will continue to flow until the end of time.
Amanda A Virasawmi, CPA
Dr. Errol G Virasawmi
Who We Are
A DISTINCT IDENTITY
The New York Mari-Amman Koil was established in 2002 in Richmond Hill,
Queens by its founders, the late Veeramootoo Madray, Haresh Apanna and Errol
Virasawmi. The Tamil culture was brought to Guyana from Tamil Nadu by our
forefathers over two hundred ago, and has been deeply preserved in its
originality. We, the Tamil descendants born in Guyana, like our forefathers,
have also brought our Culture and Gods with us to North America. As Tamils we are
extremely passionate about our worship, culture and heritage, with this in mind,
The New York Mari-Amman Koil was established as a Temple to provide the
essentials for worship along with an appeasing atmosphere necessary to perform one’s puja according to their desire. At our temple we are proud to uphold and maintain the ancient traditional rites, ways and layout as it was done in ancient times handed down to us by our gurus. Great Pusaris like the late Raj Ramsammy (Lil Mouth), Chinapa Veerana (Bayah Tata), Permaul Appaya (Peter Jogi), James Naidu (Paploo) and many others who have laid such a foundation for us to follow.
The New York Mari-Amman Koil, is a TEMPLE, a house of worship and a place for devotion. We welcome you to join us in performing this ancient worship to
Permaul, his sister Mari-Amman along with her Kaval Deivams. The Temple is
opened for worship every Sunday. We also promote cultural activities, such as Tamil language, music, and dance.
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