Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mangudi Maakali !


The old Brahmin woke up with a start. He had just witnessed a very divine dream. Goddess Kali had appeared in his dream, promised to come to Mangudi village on a specific day as a Pancha Bootha Swaroopini.

He shared this great news with his kith and kin and everybody in the agraharam were excited. They all gathered on the banks of the river Pandavai on the said day, with flowers and fruits, incense and camphor, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Goddess.

Morning turned to noon. There was absolutely no movement in the river. The villagers were anxious but stayed put. Evening turned to night. The crowd was slowly dispersing. But the Brahmin and those who believed his words stayed put. It was midnight and the dim lights were flickering. Not a leaf moved and the water seemed to have come to a standstill too.

The old brahmin and those with him peered into the darkness with weariness. The Brahmin had not lost hope. He knew for sure that the Goddess would come as promised. Suddenly, a divine fragrance wafted in. As if in a trance, the Brahmin stood up. "She is here, she has come", he murmured.  He stepped forward into the water. Those with him, lit torches and got close to the water.

A gentle breeze wafted in, forming ripples in the water. In the light that shone on it, they could see an unburnt earthern pot, covered with Neem leaves moving gently towards them. The Brahmin ran towards it, with tears of joy, and hugged the pot close to him. "Amma, Maakali! You have come as promised!", he wept.


He raised the pot over his head, and carried it out of the water, chanting praises of Goddess Kali. The crowd followed him, singing and rejoicing. The old brahmin placed the pot in the raised platform in front of his house, and started worshipping Goddess Maakali.

The Goddess, as promised in the dream, had appeared as a Pancha Bhootha Swaroopini. In an earthern pot (Earth), propelled by the wind (Air), she had appeared through water (water), in the form of Neem Leaves that are used to reduce heat (Fire) and without a defined form (Sky).

For many years, the Goddess stayed on the frontyard of the Brahmin's house, bringing harmony, good health and happiness to the people of Mangudi. Those who came after him, desired to build a temple for the Goddess and a humble mandapa with a thatched roof was built.



About four hundred and fifty years later, in the 1950s, the first temple was built for the Goddess,which over time was developed into the current structure, with a Gopuram, Maha Mandapam, Artha Mandapam and a separate shrine for Lord Ganesha.

This Ganesha is said to have been found below the ground while digging for the foundation of a house in the village and has since found place next to Goddess Maakali!


The Goddess is now housed in the main shrine of the temple. The earthern pot in which she came has been fixed to the platform on which she resides. The Kalasam is decorated with fresh neem leaves which form the face of the Goddess. These neem leaves are changed every Friday and the water in the Kalasam is given to devotees to rid them of diseases.

The vibration in the sanctum is unbelievable. Usually, in temples, there is an idol which has been consecrated. Several yagnas are performed and mantras chanted, the Ashtabandhanam and the abhishekams add to the sanctity and divinity of the shrine, which in turn result in the vibrations.

Goddess Maakali of Mangudi
But here we are, in a shrine that has the Goddess in the formless form, manifesting through neem leaves in an unbaked earthen pot, and the vibrations are really strong. Every year, the Laksharchanai festival is celebrated with great glory. During this time, the priest goes up to the Pandavai river, to collect water in a new earthern pot, he then covers it with neem leaves and garlands, and performs avahanam of Goddess Kali and carries it over his head. Several villagers, start dancing to the tune of drums and chanting, and take turns to carry the earthern pot into the temple. The miracles that the Goddess has performed in this temple, must be heard narrated by the villagers. It is such a divine experience.

Apart from the Laksharchanai, festivals like Navarathri, Fridays in the months of Aadi and Thai are celebrated with a lot of festivity. Devotees flock here to offer Maavilakku, and garments to the Goddess. The favourite offering is Panakam ( a sweet drink with dried ginger and jaggery)

Acknowledgment: My sincere thanks to Swaminathan Natarajan and his brother-in-law Mr Ganesh Kumar Sundaresan whose Kula Deivam is the Goddess, for providing lovely pictures of the Goddess and the history of the temple during the Kumbabhishekam last year which prompted me to visit this very divine temple in June this year.

A close up picture of the Goddess Maakaali of Mangudi
How to get here: Mangudi is about 4 kms from Tiruvarur.

Contact Details: Sri T Narayanaswami aka Mani Iyer - 98943 67113
Kindly be mindful to call him during morning or evening hours if you want directions to the temple. He is senior in age, but nonetheless more than willing to help anyone visiting the temple.