25 November 2014

Pidari Ursavam, 2014 Karthigai Deepam Festival

In the Third Prakaram of Arunachaleswarar Temple the Pidariamman Sannathi is located and in front of this Sannathi stands a huge stone trishul (Trident). Yesterday evening, Monday 25th November, Pidari Ursavam was observed at her Shrine. 

Goddess Pidari is Kali in a rural setting and regarded as being a consort of Siva through being an aspect of Kali. Pidari is the ferocious aspect of Amman. The Mother Goddess gives life but Kali takes life. Goddess Pidari is the feminine form of Kala – time. Kali is the energy or the power of time. Her blackness swallows all that exists and the emptiness of space is her clothing, for when the Universe is dissolved, the power of time remains without maya (veil).

Procession to the Goddess Shrine

Kali’s extension, Pidari and her worship; evolved as a fighter and warrior and gained importance with the influence of Tantrism where she is known as Kala Pidari. The Pidari Goddess, in line with Shakti manifestations, emphasises fierce symbolism. At times Pidari is the sole resident deity in a village. As devata, She is the all-in-all for the village from simple prayers to divine blessings. Otherwise she watches over the main deity of a temple in her role as ‘kaval deivam’ while taking her seat in a structure on the right hand side of a temple entrance. She joins the ‘kavaldeivam’ or Protection Gods’ similar to that of Ayyanar, Muniandy, Karuppana Swamy or Veerabahtra, all of whom are warrior-protection village gods.

Pidari shares Kali’s attributes and is depicted holding a noose, trident, skull cup and a pointed knife. The noose is sometimes replaced by ankusha – the elephant goad. The damaru that she holds is entwined by a snake, thus sharing Siva’s characteristics. She has flaming hair and three eyes. Sometimes her breasts are decorated with snakes. She has a terrifying appearance with long incisor teeth to frighten off evil spirits. Her sculptures are sometimes synonymous with Goddess Mariamman and lime strung as a garland – ‘elumichai malai’ is her favourite.

Pidari Shrine, Third Prakaram, Arunachaleswarar Temple

Goddess Pidari is also represented by a simple stone image called ‘veerakkal’ symbolising courage and venerating ‘veerarghal’ – the warriors. Pidari is part of many Amman temples. In rural settings, it is believed that Pidari is the combined form of Lord Shiva and Shakti. ‘Adanghaa Pidari’ is another Tamil description of Goddess Pidari. ‘Adanghaa’ means ‘one that cannot be controlled’ implying, Pidari, once provoked does not subside her anger soon.

In the famous legend of Daksha’s yajna in which Daksha ignores Lord Siva. Dhakshayani attends the yagna and feels vexed to see her father inviting all gods including Vishnu and Brahma, but has ignored and insulted Lord Siva. For this, Dhakshayani enters the yajna fires after cursing her father Daksha. Narada carries the news to Lord Shiva and the Great Lord shakes the earth. Sweat from his body falls down and Lord Veeravhadra and Pidari Badrakali emerge from it and are ordered to destroy the yajna and kill Dakshan. Which they do but upon the intercession of the Devas and Gods (who beg for Dakshan’s life) the head of a goat is attached to Daksha’s body and he is revived and thereupon begs forgiveness from Lord Shiva.

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