Punnai Nallur Mariamman temple
Many decades back, the early cinema era hero M K Thiagaraja Bhagavather* stayed two weeks in the temple and regained his sight, after Chennai doctors failed to cure.
The then leading comedian Danaal Thangavelu*, his wife EV Saroja* were deep devotees of Mariamman and they frequently had darshan here and almost every year donated something or the other to the Temple.
In my first hand knowledge, actor Sivaji Ganesan* was a regular visitor (I have seen him many times in my school years) who donated elephants (twice) to the Temple.
Karukurichi Arunachalam, the popular Nadhaswaram artist, after he found that he could not play a particular keerthana, in a frustrated mood, himself cut his tongue very severely and could not even talk for months, let alone play the instrument. Only after his stay for 10 days and nights in the temple he could get his tongue cured and shot to fame once again.
In the Brahmanal Palkudam festival, every devotee who happens to be inside the precincts of the temple, would always feel out of the world, especially when Nadhaswaram recital done by standing artists when the Urchava Vigraham carried on the shoulders stops in front of the main deity for almost 1 hour.
Once when I was about 11 or 12, I was witness to an unforgettable happening.
Part of the procession from Thanjavur was a thin bright boy of my age (during the time described above by me) was carrying a burning nei-theevatty (ghee torch).
While the Nadhaswaram recital was continuing, he was standing just two feet away carrying the torch and leaning on the corner.
While I was seeing him, suddenly both his legs seemed to bend in an uncanny manner, fall down with the burning torch in his hands, started slithering as a snake would, towards the Urchavar Amman.
Many elders cried with profuse tears in their eyes and I was also afraid what would happen to the boy.
The Nadhaswaram party was playing with much devotion, a keerthana in Punnaagavaraali Raga ( a raga said to attract cobras).
A very elderly Nadhaswaram artist of the village, instructed the playing artist to not stop playing ( as stopping abrupt may kill the boy) and asked him to play the last stanza of the keerthana in the normal speed.
This was done and boy was unconscious.
The Gurukkal who was watching this and praying for the boy, sat on the ground near the unconscious boy, took the boy in his lap, and for 10 minutes smeared Vibhuti and Kumkum on the boy’s head and heart, while continuing the mantra japa.
Just before a local doctor arrived, the boy had woken up, took some milk and became normal.
Amman being the form of Sakthi (energy), lot of divine energy that becomes present in such occasions, can be felt by many even without any psychic power.
Such is the power of Mariamman and the sanctity of the temple.
– N Ganapathy Subramanian.
* actors in Tamil cinema
For those who may not know about this temple, a write up from another site: http://tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.in
Punnai Nallur Mariamman temple is a Hindu temple located at Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple of goddess Mariamman is one of the famous temples around Thanjavur District. There is an important temple at Punnai nallur, 6 miles from Tanjore, dedicated to Mariamman.
The Sthala- Puranam states that, before waging a war with the demon Tanja of Tanjore, Lore Siva stationed the Ashta Saktis (eight powers) one at each of the eight directions, and the one stationed at the eastern direction is now the presiding deity of this temple.
Goddess Mariamman, a manifestation of Shakti, was worshipped here in the form of an anthill for a long time. It was only in the 18th century that a temple was built here. The seven-tiered gopuram came up recently. It is still maintained by the descendants of the royal family of Thanjavur.
The goddess is also called Muthu Mariamman because drops of moisture, like pearls (Tamil: pearls – Muthu) appear on the face and head of the granite statue from time to time.
Lord Shiva waging Battle with Tanjan Asuran:
Once Lord Shiva had to wage a battle against a demon called Tanjan Asuran. The story goes that before waging the war, Shiva installed one of the Ashta Shaktis (eight goddesses) in each of the eight directions. It is said that the Shakti installed in the eastern direction is now called Punnainallur Mariamman.
Venkoji dream on pilgrimage to Samayapuram:
The Maratha King Venkoji Maharaja Chatrapathi was a devotee of Mariamman. He decided to go on a pilgrimage to Tiruchirapalli to visit the other powerful village goddess called Samayapuram Mariamman. On his way he rested under the shade of a tree. Suddenly in his dream Mariamman showed up and told him that she could be found in a forest of Punnai trees about three miles from Thanjavur. The King rushed to that spot and he saw a Puttru or a white anthill. Over this anthill he built the Punnainallur Mariamman Temple’s present structure.
The Maratha rulers Thulaja and Serfoji also worshiped here and renovated the temple during their rule. It is said that the daughter of Tulaja Raja (1729-35) of Thanjavur lost her eyesight in an illness and regained it after offering worship at this temple. The Mariamman Temple is still maintained by the descendants of the royal family of Thanjavur.
In the year 1680, when the Maharashtra king Venkoji Maharaja Chatrapatti (1676–1688) of Tanjore was on a pilgrimage at Samayapuram, where there is a famous temple dedicated to Kali, Mariamman appeared to the King in his dream and told him -that she (the idol) was in a forest of Punnai trees at a distance of about 3 miles from Tanjore. The King lost no time in rushing to the spot indicated to him and recovered the idol from the jungle.
A temple was constructed at the place and the idol installed and so the deity of this temple is known as Punnainallur Mariamman. It is said that the daughter of Tulaja Raja (1729–35) of Tanjore, who lost her eyesight in an illness, regained it on offering worship at this temple.
Originally the Amman was in the form of white-ant hill (Puttru). The Great saint Sadhasiva Brahmendra swamy shaped the white-ant hill (Puttru) into a form of Mariamman and also installed a powerful Chakra.