December 25th, 2007 by sabrina

Mariamman is a Hindu Goddess of fertility and rain. She is Mother Earth, worshipped especially in southern India and by Tamils around the world. Mariamman is often identified with Shitala, the Goddess of smallpox, and as such, she is also said to be able to cure disease. The rain she brings washes villages clean, taking the disease away. Mariamman is usually depicted with a reddish hue to her skin, and she wears a red dress. In some villages, she is represented only by a stone in the ground, symbolizing her head–the whole village is seen as her body.

One myth that explains Mariamman’s origin says that she was once a beautiful woman named Nagavali. One day, while her husband was out, the Trimurti (a three-headed figure representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) came to see if the stories of her beauty and virtue were true. Not knowing them, Nagavali turned the Gods into little children. They then cursed her–her beauty faded away to be replaced by pox, which she carried to the people around her. She then became known as Mariamman, “the goddess who changed”. Alternative versions of her name include Mariamma, Marika, Amman, Mari, Mahamaayi, and Maariamma.

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