Dance and Trance in the Presence of Māriyammaṉ

Paul Younger

in Playing Host to Deity

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140446
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834907 | DOI:
 Dance and Trance in the Presence of Māriyammaṉ

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The most basic of the festival styles seems to be the one associated with the independent Goddesses or Ammans who are thought to have special sakti (power). Mariyamman is the bestknown of this class of independent Goddesses in Tamilnadu, and her temple in Samayapuram near Tirucirapalli in the center of that state is one of the more popular of the many hundred of her temples where festivals are held. Worship of Mariyamman starts when someone takes a vow promising to worship and ward off her anger. After a few months of arduous preparations, the vow‐keepers eventually dance their way into the temple grounds while holding a fire pot or kavati or being swung on a hook and the huge crowds on the sidelines show them reverence at every step. After worship, some of the vow‐keepers go into a trance and become possessed by the Goddess so that they can perform healings and exorcisms for others in need. In Samayapuram today the tone of worship includes considerable mocking of the Brahmanical pretensions of the nearby temple of Srirankam.

Keywords: Amman; Brahmanical; Goddess; goddesses; independentpower; sakti; Tirucirapalli; trance

Chapter.  6269 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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