October 30, 2016

Shiva who became a female deity

This article is not about any mythological story of Shiva changing his gender. But, it is about the locals who changed Shiv Linga into a female deity.

Chembarampakkam Reservoir is one of the two river fed reservoirs of Chennai city. It is located at a distance of about 30 kms from Chennai Central. Before the reservoir was constructed, there must have been a temple of Lord Shiva on the banks of the Chembarampakkam Lake. After the reservoir was constructed, the access to this small temple was probably not easy as earlier. As the people started neglecting or forgetting this temple, the local villagers alone worshiped this temple, which is located in a hideout in the reservoir structure now. The villagers probably changed this deity as a female deity and named him as Kanni Amman.

Who is Kanni Amman? In Tamil Nadu, the village deities are generally called as Kanni (meaning Kanya - virgin). Serpents are worshiped as Naga Kannis. Sapta Matrikas, which are found in the traditional temples, are worshiped as Sapta Kannis. Sometimes, Mari Amman is also named as Mundaka Kanni. So, the tradition of naming the female village deities as Kanni appears to be common in Tamil Nadu state.

Apart from Mundaka Kanni, Naga Kanni and Sapta Kanni, there are many village temples across the state which have the presiding deity as "Kanni Amman". I wonder who is this Kanni Amman. I could not find any solid source of materials about this. As far as my knowledge goes, Chamunda Devi among the Sapta Matrikas (or, Kannis) is more popular than the other six companions. She is sometimes considered as Kali. There are temples in and outside Tamil Nadu for Chamunda and Kali. Even in the temples where all the seven Devis are found, Chamunda alone is given important position in few village temples. Hence, I believe that Kanni Amman should refer to Chamunda (who is also called as Kali, Chamundi, etc.)

As the villagers reportedly took over the small Shiva temple hidden under the structure of Chembarampakkam Reservoir, they named him as Kanni Amman. Now, Shiv Linga has a nose and eyes (somewhat similar to Mukha Linga) to justify that it is Kanni Amman. :-)

Happy travelling.

No comments:

Post a Comment