Salem District

Salem - Temples

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Salem - Temples


A mother goddess. The Tamil word mari means death but when the letter a in it is accented, the word changes to mean rain. She is the most ancient and popular deity among the village deities of Salem and is worshipped under several other names such as Amman, Atthu, Ayam Ayee (Mother) Dharmapuri (Mari with army) Magamayee ( Great Mother) and Vadivattha ( Beautiful Mother) all indicating an ancient form of ancestral mother worship Iconographically, Mari represented in a sitting posture with four bands. They hold a drum, a trident a bundle if ropes and a skull.

Mari Amman rules over discuses that bring death, especially small pox. At times of small-pox incidence, the leaves of the neem tree (netta azadirachia) sacred to the goddess, are spread on the bed of the afflicted person and a bunch of them tied in the entrance of the patients house indicating the presence of the goddess. In the benevolent aspect, the goddess brings rainy to put an end to the diseases which result from the heat.

She is believed to cure a variety of illness of those who offer silver sheet metal models of their affected organs. This type of prayer is commonly found in almost all Mari Amman temples in Salem.

Almost every village has a temple or shrine dedicated to her which is the focus of village festivals. Major temples are relatively large and may or may not be surrounded by compound walls. Annual festivals in early or late summer usually last for several days. The festival begins with the planting of a stump of a neem tree, 6 tall and with three prongs at the top; A new mud pot containing sanctified water is placed among the prongs, Devotees offer her pongal ( ritual cooking) sacrificed goats and roosters in the temple yard.

Some devotees walk bare feet on burning coals and pierce their bodies with pins and knives. Walking on burning coals is an ancient custom practiced in honour of mother goddess. These self-inflicted in honor of mother goddess. These self-inflicted painful fistulas were prohibited during the British rule as they were thought to be injurious to health of the devotees. On the last day of the festival, a procession of floats is held, each float depicting a legendary scene. Fireworks conclude the festivities.

This Dravidian goddess is one of the widely revered goddess of the ancient world. Under many variants of her name, She was Marrattu ( Mari Attha) to the Chaldeans, March to the Jews, Mary to the Christians. She was also the goddess of the eye of truth and judgment. Compare "ayin" which was the "eye" in the Hebrew sacred alphabet. Possibly derived from aya. The babylonian creatress. Aya in tamil means mother and Mari Amman is popularly known as Mari Aya. In Syria she was known as the goddess Mari whose huge eyes searched men"s souls. As death giver she was Mariamman, Miriam, and Mara an exceedingly ancient name of the goddess as death-bringer. The name and its variants are found from India to Northern Europe.


A Dravidian god of youth and beauty. The Dravidian cult of the young is as old as the cult of mother and ancestors. It was absorbed into the brahminical Hinduism and Murugan was sanckritized as Skandha, which name was again Tamilized into Kandha. These names are alternatives for the brachminical Karthikeya the Hindu god of war. In the Tamil tradition, Murugan is adored as a Tamil and Vedhic scholar. The name Skandha may preserve the memory of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian youth and world conqueror, who blazed like a flash of lightning on the Indian horizon and left lasting impression on the Indian mind.

Murugan is known by several descriptive names: Balamurugan, Kumaran, Mayil veganan, Subramanian, Velan, and Velumurgan Iconographically, he holds a lance or spear (vel) and rides a peacock; his flag, a living malai, Thiruchengode and Vaiyappa Malai, are Murugan's favourite aunts. The most famous Murugan temple of Tmil Nadu is in Pazhani. Dinduval District. According to the Salem legends, a new image of Murugan in Pazhani was installed by a siddhar when Murugan came to and remained in Vaiyappa Malai accepting the gift of gold created by the Alavoy malai siddhars. The notable Murugan temples in Salem are at Ammapettai, Belukurichi, Kanakagiri, Kapilamalai, Thiruchengodu, Kandhasramam, Kanjamalai, Kalipatti and Vaiyappa Malai. Most of the Siva temples contain Murugan shrines.


Muniappan ( Forefather) . It is an ancient and very popular village deity of Salem. He is also known as "Aiyanar" ( Revered Father). The word Muni is generally taken to mean an anchorite, or one who has taken a vow of mauna. (silence) It is frequently used for a sage who has supernatural powers which he displays in his blessings and curses. This interpretation is inappropriate when the phrase is seen in the combination of muniappan. The word muni stands for munnai ( fore ) and appan ( father ) Therefore it is believed the words muniappan and aiyanar refer to an ancient dravidian cult of ancestor worship.

Blood sacrifices at these shrines are very common. The huge and terrifying images are accompanied by larger than life figures of attendants and animals. Smaller terra cotta horses and iron spears, offered by devotees in fulfillment of their vows, usually crowd the front yard of these shrines. In the centre of the shrine, there is usually a grouping of triangular shaped an iconic stones or Neolithic stone implements, or some other form of a pandukal monument such as a dolmen. The new cult of Aiyappan is the Sanskritized braminical Hindu version of the Aiyanar cult. Because of the dominant presence of Muniappan shrines everywhere, the Salem district is known as the Land of Muniappan.

Though Salem is the origin for worshiping various gods and godess, a great movement which disapprove gods was started by E.V.R.Ramaswamy Nayakar who belongs to Salem Region. This movement was made great changes in the minds of the people who believed superstition since ancient times.

There are several Mariamman temples in Salem. Mariamman is a Hindu goddess, an incarnation of Shakti. Every year around July the City celebrates Mariamman festival for a fortnight. During this festival, Goddess Mariamman is decorated with jewellery and flower chariots and taken around the city at midnight. On the first important day of the festival, people walk on fire (Note:devotees call fire as flower) with their prayers. The second day is colourful with parades of fancy dress. This is one of the best time to visit Salem City. This festival is celebrated at temples at Fort, Shevapet, Ammapet, Gugai, Andheripati etc., Shevapet Mariamman temple car is the biggest one among the cars of Amman temples across the state. This festival will be celebrated for a week. The Kottai Marriamman temple is very famous not only in Salem but throughout Tamil Nadu.

Kandashramam is small hill temple for Lord Muruga. It is situated 10 km from Salem City towards Chennai highway. In Salem City, at Seelanaickenpatty there is another hill for Lord Murugan. Hill is named as OOTHUMALAI.

Two more mountain temples are there in Salem for Lord Vishnu.

Salem also has Heritage Temple called Sitthar Koil, which is located about 10 km from Salem. This is a Shiva Temple, which is located on the foot hills of Kanja Malai. Some believers say that, this temple was built by Sitthar's which is believed that they still survive in the Mount of Kanja Malai. The famous Tamil Poetess Avvayar is believed to be living in this hills.

Aragalur is located approximately 21 km from Attur that boast of 2 old temples and a large Buddha statue. The one day Temple Car festival in summer invites lots of people in the region. The Kailasanatha Temple situated at Tharamangalam is very famous for its architectural beauty, There are ancient shiva temples at Belur(Thanthondreeshwarar) and Uttamacholapuram(Karabunathar). The Sugavaneshwarar temple and Kottai Azhagiri Nadha Perumal Temple are also very important shrines of Salem. A branch of the Ramakrishna Math is located in Salem.

The Greatness of Lord Ajneya

The centre of attraction in Namakkal is Lord Ajneya who brought the Salakrama Hills from Nepal as instructed by his guru Narasimha Murthy and named for it as Namakkal. His Vishwaruba Dharshan with his hands worshipping in the open terrace without minding the natural calamities like flood, hot sun and storm. The reason of this Dharshan in open terrace without ceiling was once told that he keeps on growing in height wise. The people of Namakkal city submits their problems to him with great belief that he will surely give solutions for them. Not only that, they believe that this Ajneya gives them good sense, health, boldness, fearless, wealth and fine speech. They do abhisekhams for him with holy things like flowers, scented sandal, butter etc. Let the Ajneya's fame spread throughout the world.

Kailasanathar Kovil

A Siva temple, perhaps the most beautiful of its kind in Salem District. Parts of it existed as early as the tenth century: as it stands now, it is the product of the Gatti Mudhali dynasty of the seventeenth century. Reconstruction and elaboration of the old temple was begun by Mummudi, continued by Siyazhi, and was brought near completion by Vanangamudi.

The Servarayan Kaveri Amman Temple

A Malaiyalai tribal temple dedicated to Lord Servarayan also known as Ramaswamy. It is located in a narrow and dark cave on the tallest peak (5,342') on the Servarayan mountain. The annual festival held in May is very popular and attracts thousands of Malayali pilgrims. The mouth of the cave is built up like a Hindu shrine. The God Servarayan and Goddess Kaveri representing the Servarai Hills and Kaveri River respectively are seated in the temple.

Salem - Temples

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