Thursday, 19 June 2014

Our village temples ... Yerpachchamma, Sibbalamma, Vinayaka ...

Religion is an integral part of the lives of the people and interwoven with daily living. Socializing, community bonding and entertainment are anchored in religion. Many gods co-exist. A stone is anointed with kumkum, and its divinity recognized.

There is the pantheon of native gods including the mother goddesses like Gangamma. Some say she belongs to a set of a hundred and one sisters. Lakshmamma said that there are twelve Gangammas including Tirupathi Gangamma, Pedda Gangamma, Alavelu Gangamma, Baata (path)  Gangamma, Nadu Veedhi (middle of the road) Gangamma, Katta Meedha (on the bund) Gangamma, Nalla (black) Gangamma,  Banthala Gangamma, Muthiyalamma (chickenpox Amma), Yerpachchamma, Moolasthanamma, Boyi Gangamma, Irugalamma and Sibbaalamma. Ganga Bhavani is another goddess, and they say all are forms of the same goddess. Eashwaramma said, ‘Don’t people have many names, similarly the Gods.’ Annasamy Anna said, ‘As there are many villages, similarly there are many gods’.

Trees are worshiped. The neem tree and the peepal tree are married together by the people and the bandhaaram (yellow thread on the neck of married women) and bottu (gold coin on the bandhaaram) are tied on the neem tree. Anthills are worshiped. Snakes are worshiped. There are some huts which have anthills within them and these, considered the abodes of snakes, are never disturbed. Milk and eggs are offered there. The cobra is auspicious. 
The Yerpachchamma temple

The Yerpachchamma temple is on the west of the village and has Yerpachchamma silaas (consecrated stones), a geriki dutta, a naagalamma (snake goddess) silaa, a ganta (bell), a bandaara muguthi (mud lid for holy ash), jaati naaru  (a whip made of kalabandha (Aloe vera) fibres that the person possessed by the goddess wields) and also has a soolam planted outside the low stone shrine, and a soolam planted inside.

Every day the village people take turns for the shrine. In the morning the place is swept, and muggu put. The oil is poured, and the map lit. Lemons are also put on the soolam.

The Sibbalamma temple

This temple is special for the Eddulu families. And daily, in turns, the temple is maintained and the lamp lit.

Once the jewellery of the goddess was  stolen, and later replaced with bronze jewels. When the thief was not located, the people decided the goddess would dispense justice as she saw fit.

  The Vinayaka temple

The pride of the village - the Vinayaka temple, built at subsantial costs and efforts. A one roomed structure houseing the god, and a big tiled space ahead roofed by corrugated iron sheet. The installation of the idol was done by priests with all the vedic rites.
For the next forty one days families took turns in conducting the temple pooja. Everyday one family would wash the temple premises and put muggus and decorate the temple with flowers. They would make and distribute prasadam morning and evening. The prasadam made was generous, including a rice preparation, some sauted pulses and some sweet. The ceremony would cost each family upto a thousand rupees.After the completion of the forty one days there was a grand ceremony.

Daily pooja at the temple continued in rotation, with each family washing and decorating the temple and the Yerpachchamma temple in the morning, lighting lamps at both places, and making prasadam and distributing it in the morning and in the evening. When it was Eashwaramma’s turn, Kavya was at the Yerpachchamma temple by seven in the morning, washing the place and applying turmeric and kumkum before setting out for school. Despite her complete poverty, Eashwaramma undertook her turn eagerly and did all that was required.  Every evening when the temple bells ring and the children and some adults go there for the prasadam. 

A community of fifty families has five temples, each venerated and attended to daily ... through droughts and good times ... 

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