Kanyakumari district is famous for a number of “amman” (devi) temples. Muppandhal Esakki Amman is a goddess who is believed to have immense powers. I have often heard, during my childhood and boyhood, my grandmother Mrs Sivakami Sathyavageeswaran talking about this goddess. In fact, in the Tirunelveli belt, Mutharamman, Muppandhal Esakki Amman are famous “kaval deivangal” besides Sudalaimada samy and Ponkarrupanna samy.
There are no historical records or evidence about this legend and so whatever information is available is only anecdotal. However what is true that Muppandhal Esakki Amman (hereafter Esakki Amman) has intense power and praying to her with utmost faith will reap rich dividends in the long run.
Pazhavoor is a hamlet near Muppandhal. A rich woman lived here with her daughter Esakki. The woman was a renowned dancer. Esakki was beautiful. Enchanted by her wealth, a con man sweet talked her into coming to a nearby forest along with money and gold jewellery. Poor Esakki did not know what was in store for her. While she was with him in the forest, the con man killed her using a heavy stone.
Soon enough the con man paid for his sins. He was attacked by a snake and he died on the spot. Esakki stood before Lord Shiva and pleaded with him to give life to both her and the con man. Esakki wanted to avenge the murderer herself. Lord Shiva bestowed her the boon.
The conman went away to his village. Esakki roamed about in the forest. Using her powers, Esakki converted a small shrub into a beautiful child. Esakki then proceeded to the conman’s village and called the panchayat to seek justice.
The conman pretended to not know either Esakki or her daughter. But the child called him, “Father”. The village head announced that a child would not lie and he asked the man and Esakki to sort out the issue and made them sit in a room.
Esakki waited patiently till midnight and then she killed the con man. Then she started walking towards the south in a disheveled state. Avvayyar Paati saw her and was shocked. She pacified her and requested her not to go anywhere. Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati blessed Esakki with divine powers and since then Esakki became a “kaval deivam” [a protecting goddess] for the village. As she decided to stay put in Muppandhal village, she became Muppandhal Esakki Amman.
Where is Muppandhal?
It is on the national highway between Tirunelveli and Nagercoil. After valliyoor, there are two small villages called “Kavalkinaru” and “Aralvaymozhi”. Muppandhal is located in between. As the shrine is located on the highway, people driving cars and bikes often pray to the Goddess for Road safety. Even children cycling to school pray for her. Esakki amman always listens and protects.
In all the villages in and around Nagercoil, many people have immense faith in Muppandhal Esakki Amman’s powers. No one ever returns empty handed after visiting the shrine. If you are travelling to Valliyoor, Kalakad, Nagercoil – a visit to this shrine is a must.
Every year, there is a festival organized on the last Tuesday of the “Adi” month. Special buses are arranged so that people can visit the shrine peacefully. In the month of “Thai”, a floral abhisekam is performed for muppandhal esakki amman and this is a most wonderful sight.
PS : Muppandhal was the place where the Chera, Chola and Pandiya kings used to congregate to resolve their problems and discuss future plans. Avvaiyar used to proffer them advice and during one of her visits, she met Esakki.