All the kings of Vijaynagar had a profound affection for Mariyamman. They built a temple dedicated to her and celebrated all the festive occasions with great fervour. Once when the Mughal sultans invaded the Vijayanagar empire, the then King prayed fervently that the Mughals should not desecrate the idol of the Goddess.
The King called his soldiers and asked them to take the idol carefully Southwards in a palanquin. Many days passed and the soldiers continued on their journey carrying the palanquin and the Goddess. Then at a particular location, they felt like taking some rest and therefore they placed the palanquin to rest. After taking rest for a while, when the soldiers decided to continue on their journey, they realised to their chagrin that they could not even lift the palanquin. Soon enough, the villagers from the surrounding areas tried to help the soldiers. But to no avail. The palanquin could not be lifted at all.
The location was picturesque with a lake and lots of Neem trees. Sensing the situation, the people decided to construct a temple for the Goddess at the same place. Later on, a ruler called Vijayaranga Chokkanathar, who was based in Tiruchi and represented the Vijayanagar empire, constructed a huge temple for the goddess and consecrated it. This is one of the legends about the world famous Samayapuram Mariyamman temple.
Connection with Sriranganathar
Another legend takes us to Srirangam. In the temple of Sriranganathar, the Goddess Vaishnavi adopted an aggressive stance that generated such an intense heat that no one was able to near her. The priests and devotees were perplexed wondering about the next course of action. Then a voice from heaven proclaimed that whatever was happening was for the benefit of the universe and that the real home of the Goddess was somewhere else.
To pacify the Goddess, the priests bathed the Goddess with pots and pots of milk and water, dressed her up and brought her outside the temple in a palanquin. To their amazement, the devotees were guided by a strange light that seemed to show them the direction.
The devotees progressed on their path with energy and enthusiasm. All of a sudden, their body started complaining of fatigue and the palanquin-bearers were unable to even make one forward step. They placed the palanquin and decided to rest for a while. When they decided to resume their journey, they realized that they were unable to lift the palanquin. Interpreting this as divine providence, the devotees decided to erect a temple at the same location.
Location :Where is Samayapuram ?
It is located in Tamil Nadu. It is situated at a distance of 10 kms from Kollidam river in Tiruchi. All those who have been infected with chicken pox pray for their quick recovery and Goddess Mariyamman bestows her grace on them and heals them. This ancient temple has also become a great pilgrimage centre in South India where millions of devotees throng to get cured of their eye ailments.
Other names of Samayapuram
Kannanur, Mahakalipuram, Vikramapuram
Experience of a Britisher
When our country was ruled by the British, one of the British officers had camped in Samayapuram. Maintaining a tight vigil, he had ordered a curfew in the town. On one of these nights, when the entire town was asleep, the officer was awakened from his sleep by the sound of ghungroos (anklets) that pierced the eerie silence in the dark. The officer saw a woman who was all decked up in a yellow dress carrying a fire pot with her even while she was walking.
Enraged at someone defying his orders, the officer started shooting at her and rained bullets on her. The bullets fired became a garland for the woman. Villagers were awakened by the gun shots and rallied around the British officer pleading with him not to fire at the divine form. They told him that it was the Goddess who was taking rounds at night to protect the villagers.
Mocking at the superstition of the villagers, the British officer raced past the woman and reached the Mariyamman temple and peeped inside the sanctum sanctorum. He did not find the idol there. He realised his folly. The doors of the sanctum sanctorum opened with a force and the powerful light emanating from the sanctum sanctorum blinded the British officer’s eyes.
Completely devastated at losing his eyesight, the Britisher fervently prayed to the Goddess to cure him and apologised for his sin. The kind hearted Goddess restored his eyesight within no time. This is not an apocryphal account but a real life account that has found its way in the memoirs of the British officer.
About the Goddess
The Goddess is seated in all her glory covered by a five headed snake. Her illuminated crown adds to her beauty and charm.She has eight hands. She holds a sword and a small cup filled with vermilion. One of her legs rests on the heads of three demons. She is bedecked with jewels and ornaments.The floral decorations add to her allure. The benign faced mother ensures that her grace is showered on all devotees who seek her divine intervention. Extremely powerful, the Goddess Mariyamman is known to cure illnesses that are considered incurable.
What is so special about the temple ?
The temple is considered as one of the sakti-peeths in India. A popular tamil saying goes – “Samayathil kaapall Samaypurathu amman” (The Goddess will rush to your rescue in the nick of the time). Married women pray to the Goddess for the welfare of their husbands. The benign mother cures illnesses like eye sight related problems, cholera, chicken pox. Thousands of devotees throng the temple on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The special feature of the Samayapuram temple is that it wears a festive look all through out the year.All the abhishekams that are done for mother are intended to reduce the heat in the earth , provide coolness and protect all of us.
The normal practice is that devotees fast for the Goddess. But Samayapuram Mariyamman fasts for her devotees. Four weeks in a year, Mother only has butter milk and paanagam (a drink made from water, cardamom and jiggery). During these days, the temple revels in the anna-dhana where food is offered to all devotees. The Mother – Samayapuram Mariyamman is not called a goddess with 1000 eyes for nothing. She is someone who always rushes to your rescue. You only need to ask and it will be given.There are no caste barriers in this temple. The rich-poor divide is decimated in front of the Goddess. The temple also has one of the highest revenues in Tamil Nadu.
Please do visit Samayapuram Mariyamman at least once and experience the thrill of receiving her grace.
Source : Kamakodi, December 2003