May 22, 2018

Mayana Kollai

They scream; they cry; they dance; And, they play loud music.

Crackers are fired; temple is decorated; Cocks and goats are sacrificed.

The girls are dressed like fierce Goddess; their faces are painted in bright colors; the boys too join them; they look like the deity who would destroy this universe; they shout; they stare at you and even scare you. They don't fear; they don't care about anything; they dance with full energy and rage on the roads.



Here comes the annual festival of Mayana Kollai, a ritual which is celebrated in grand manner. The word Mayana Kollai means looting of the burial ground. It is a festival celebrated on a day before the full moon day after Maha Shivaratri every year (February or March). It is celebrated in Angala Parameswari temples. Angala Parameswari is a female village deity who is worshiped all over the state of Tamil Nadu as well as in some parts of Kerala. However, her temples are mostly found in Chennai and other parts of northern Tamil Nadu. Hence, this annual festival is also celebrated mainly in this region.

(Click here to find all the videos of Mayana Kollai.)



It is a unique festival with a lot of interesting aspects. The festival starts with the poojas conducted in Angala Parameswari temple. Then, the procession of the deity starts in the late afternoon.

The palanquin is accompanied by hundreds of devotees. Some of them are dressed like Kali, Bhairava, Angalamman and other fierce forms. They dance and shout. Few people play the folk music. Few others fire crackers. Few sing folk songs narrating the stories of Angalamman. The devotees gather in front of the deity and offer the cooked food items in the middle of the road. The flowers and coins are thrown towards the deity. Few devotees fell at the feet of those who are dressed like the deities. Some people bring cock and goats and offer them to the temple.



Many devotees fell in the state of trance. Some devotees carry kavedi. Some have pierced lemons or others have pierced sharp hooks into their bodies. Few devotees even pierce small Vel into their tongues.

After travelling through all the streets for few hours, the procession along with hundreds of devotees enter the burial ground. There are many legends that talk about Angalamman and this ritual. The popular one states that she was asked by Shiva to destroy a Rakshasa. The Goddess entered the burial ground, where the Rakshasa was hiding. She went on feasting on the corpses till she could identify him. Ultimately, he was killed by her. To symbolize this event, the devotees enter the burial ground. The image of the Rakshasa made with mud is kept there. The women dressed like Angalamman reenact the process of killing the Rakshasa. In some places, the animal sacrifice is done. In few places, even the devotees dressed in fierce forms bite the chicken violently. Food cooked over there and the ashes were brought by the devotees as the prasad.

If you are in Chennai, you can find this ritual celebrated in various areas such as Choolai, Saidapet and Mylapore.

Happy travelling.

















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