2 December 2016

Pidari Utsavam, Pre-2016 Karthigai Deepam Festival

The Pidariamman Shrine is located at the Third Prakaram of Arunachaleswarar Temple. In front of the Shrine stands a huge stone trishul (Trident). Yesterday evening, Thursday 1st December, 2016, Pidari Utsavam was observed at the Shrine. 

Goddess Pidari is an aspect of Kali in a rural setting and regarded as being a consort of Siva. 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). 

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. 

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. 

Yesterday evening was the second day of the pre-Deepam Festival. The first day celebrates Durgai Utsavam, the second day observes Pidari Utsavam and the third day, this evening, celebrates Ganesha Utsavam. 

Pidari Goddess

Goddess on her lion vahana

Goddess arriving at Pidari Shrine

Receiving aarti outside Pidari Shrine (3rd Prakaram)

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