27 September 2008

Mother Worship

While walking down Chengam Road on my way to Ramana Nagar, I noticed a little pathway off the main road. As there were bright colours at the end of the path, I knew there would be some kind of shrine set off the road.

So I followed the little road which opened into a pretty glade with various shrines and statues dedicated to the Divine Mother.

As well as the statues of the Mother there were also several small altars of stone iconic representations of the Divine Principle. Everything was well maintained and seems to be regularly visited by locals.

There are many legends associated with the Divine Mother at Arunachala, and hopefully in the runup to Navaratri and Deepam, I will try and give some information regarding Shakti Worship at Tiruvannamalai.

Further on my walk I passed travellers from Rajasthan who have come to Tiruvannamalai to make and sell statues in connection with the upcoming Navaratri Festival. In the above photograph a young man is preparing the molds for the statues.

They is a huge variety of different molds on hand.

Below is a collection of statues that have been prepared in the molds and now await painting.

As well as more expensive, traditional statues, the travelling families from Rajasthan are also preparing other kinds of statues to be purchased in conjunction with the upcoming Navaratri Festival.

The more orthodox statues are now getting a finishing touch.

The dates of Sharad Navaratri, 2008 are:

September 30th – Navratri, Festival of Nine Nights begins
October 5th – Durga Puja Begins - Durga Sashti puja
October 7th – Durga Ashtami Puja
October 8th, 2008 – Navratri Ends. Mahanavami Puja/ Saraswathi Puja and Ayudha Pooja in South India
October 9th – Vijaya Dashami and Dussehra

In olden times, this Festival was particularly associated with the fertility of Mother Earth. Navratri means 'nine nights'. The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion, next three to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) dressed in gold and mounted on an owl and finally, last three to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess Of Knowledge) dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan.


Eileen said...

It looks like that shrine was made by an ant hill.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Oh yes it is an anthill. Which is often the case in roadside shrines. Its especially auspicious if the anthill is taken over by a snake (especially a cobra) as their new home. When the snake moves in - the ants move out. But sometimes the hill is abandoned and just left empty for some reason.

Anyhow apparently thats the origin of the old adage -- 'work like the cobra,' i.e. let someone do the necessary and then take it over!