Madras (India : State).

Madura (Volume 1) online

. (page 26 of 40)
Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

principal places within the taluk follow hereunder : —

Agaram : Six miles north of Dindigul on the other side of the
Kodavanar, facing Tadikkoiuha ; population 5,'3','5 ; police-station.

The village is widely known for the festival at its Muttalamma
temple which occurs in SeptemLer-Octoljer and is attended Ly
crowds from near and far. The huilding faces the Kodavanar and
architecturally is not remarkable, but the ceremonies at the feast
are curious. This latter cannot take place unless the goddess sig-
nifies her approval, which is revealed by the chirping of lizards on
the northern of the two great demons, eight feet high, which guard
the shrine on either side. If the lizards are silent, no festival
occurs ; and this is a bad omen for the coming north-east monsoon.
If the celebration of the feast is sanctioned, a silver chakram
(quoit), which is kept in a box in the temple ami Jield in great
reverence, is first taken, for several days in succession, to a certain
mantapam, where worship is paid it. Tliree days before tlie actual
festival, an image of the goddess is made of clay and this and the
box are escorted to several different mantapams with due formality.
On the Tuesday on which the ceremonies reach their climax the
clay idol and box are taken together to a flower-garden across the
river, the box returns to the temple, and in front of the idol sacrifices
of very many sheep, goats and fowls are made by those who have
taken vows to do so. The mud image is afterwards left to the
mercy of the weather and slowly crumbles away. On the days
following the sacrifices, the assembled crowd is entertained witli
such popular plays (acted by Kuttadis) as Ifan'schaju/ra tidfakaia
and so forth.

Ambaturai : Seven miles S.S.W. of j)indigal ; population
5,702 ; railway -station, it stands on the high ground between the
Palnis and the Sirunuilais, and is as much as 097 feet above the sea.
Near it is one of thi' highest points on all the South Indian Railway
and the gradients on either side of this are severe. The village is a
small weaving centre and a depot for the products of tlie adjoin-
ing Siriimalai hills, and was formerly the capital of one of the
26 p^laiyams comprised in the Dindigul country at the time of
its cession to the Company. The liistory of this up to tlien is
referred to on pp. 70 and 183. It was a small estate some


,CHAP. XV. 21 square miles in extent, of whicli eiglit square miles were on
DixDiGUL. tlie Sirumalais. In 1795 it was reported to consist mainly of
cultivable dry land and to be paying a peshkash of 1,500 cliakrams
annually. By 1816 it had been ravaged by the great epidemic of
fever, the inhabitants had emigrated in large numbers, the poligar
had mismanaged it, and the Collector had resumed it for arrears.

Attur : Population 8,704. Lies on the upper waters of the
Kodavanar, ten miles south-west of Dindigul, close under the
Lower Palnis. The new Attur ghat up these hills, now under
construction (p. 156), starts from near here. A channel from
the river irrigates some 750 acres assessed at Rs. 4 ,200 and is the
onl}' considerable work of its kind in the talnk.

Attur is locally very celebrated for its festival to V"andik^li-
amman, a form of the well-known goddess Kali. Her temple,
curiously enough, contains also an image of Muttalamma, and a
feast to each of the two goddesses takes place on alternate years,
turn and turn about. That to Vandikaliamma is probably the
better appreciated of the two. It takes place in the month of
Panguni (March- April) and the great day in it is the Tuesday
(festivals to Kali are usually fixed for a Tuesday) after the
full moon.

Some time before the feast begins, the Pallans of the place go
round to the adjoining villages and collect the many buffaloes
which have been dedicated to the goddess during the past two
years and have been allowed in consequence to graze unmolested
and where they willed in the fields. These are brought in to Attur
and one of them is selected, garlanded and placed in tha temple.

On the Sunday preceding the chief day of the feast, the village
potter brings somQ earth to the shrine and it is consecrated and
returned to him. From this he manufactures an image of K^li
which is taken round the village with all kinds of music and
eventually placed in the temple. The people assemble there on
the Tuesday and do puja and perform the vows they have taken
to the goddess during the past months.

On the I'hursday occurs the great sacrificing of the dedicated
buffaloes. The one which was garlanded and put in the temple is
brought out, led round the village in state and then, in front of
the temple, is given three cuts with a knife by a Chakkiliyan who
lias fasted that day to purify himself for the rite. The privilege
of actually killing the animal belongs by immemorial usage to the
head of the family of the former poligar of Nilakkottai, but lie
deputes certain Pallans to take his place, and they fall upon the
animal and slay it. Afterwards twenty or thirty other buffaloes


(the number varies with the number of people who have taken CHAP. XV.
vows to carry out this rite) are sacrificed on the same spot. Their 1)indk;lt..
bodies are eventually buried in front of the shrine.

This festival is the only one in the district at which any
considerable number of these animals is thus offered up. The
ceremony is supposed, to commemorate the triumph of Kali over
the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura, which event is wonder-
fully depicted among- the sculptures at the ' Seven Pagodas ' in
Ching-leput district and is fabled to have occurred at Mysore
(whence the name of that town) where, on the great rock overlooking
the place, is a famous temple to Kali.

On the Friday of the Attur feast the image of tlie goddess
which the potter made is taken in procession again and left in a
flower-garden (compare the ritual at the festival at Agaram) wliere
sheep, goats and fowls are sacrificed before it. These doings,
however, are rather private affairs than part of the real ceremonies.
For a week thereafter the temple is shut up and puja is only done
outside its doors. 'I'hen it is formally purified by the village
Panchangi Brahman (no Brahman has thus far had any hand in
any of the rites) and worship goes on as before. These later
doings have the appearance of an apology for the sacrifices which
have occurred.

When it is Muttalamma's turn for the festival, no buffalo
sacrifices occur, but otherwise the ritual is much the same.

Ayyampalaiyam : A union of 13,881 inhabitants lying
eighteen miles in a direct line south-west of Dindigul, in a valley
of the Lower Palnis belonging to the Kannivtidi zamindari and
watered by the Ayyamp£aiyam river.

The place is said to get its name from its well-known temple to
Aiyanar. It does a great trade with the Lower Palnis in the staple
products of that range. 'I he river is prettily fringed with cocoanut
and mango topes and is crossed by a dam. Messrs. TurnbuU and
Keys, in their Survey Account, complain that the wet crops under
this work were annually ruined by elephants, though every effort
was made to keep them awa}-.

Dindigul, the head-quart '^i-s of i]\

Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 40)