Samayapuram Mariamman Temple
The great Sri Mariamman temple is located in Samayapuram, on the outskirts of Trichy, on the Tiruchi-Chennai route. A long corridor leads to the sanctum. The deity is big and attractive, and some of her devotees get emotional at the sight of Her. Abishekam is not done to the main deity, but to the smalller stone replica in front. Regarded as one of the wealthiest temples in the state, devotees comehere with offerings of salt. They also offer small metallic replicas of body parts, and deposit them in the Hundi, praying that they be cured of illnesses. They deity is said to date back to antiquity. King Dasaratha, father of Lord Rama, is said to have worshipped here. It is said the mariamman idol was earlier in Srirangam and was moved out to this place since it was thought to be too powerful. The local villagers then built a small shrine round the idol. It was known as Kannanur Mariamman temple. According to legends, Mariamman is an incarnation of Kali, who was created by Shiva to kill an asura, while another school maintains that She is Uma Devi and that She was born as Renuka Devi, and became the wife of sage Jamadagni.
The processional deity is housed in a separate shrine in the sanctum. How it got here is another story. The deity reportedly belonged to the Vijayanagar monarchs. Samayapuram, then known as Vikaramapuram, was the provincial capital of the Vijayanagar empire. The idol was taken out of Hampi, in an ivory palanquin, after the destruction of the empire. The palanquin bearers placed it on the ground here and paused for rest. When they tried to lift the palanquin to resume their journey, it would not budge. It was then left here. The present structure owes its existence to Vihayaranga Chokkanatha Nayak (17o4-1731), who built it, reportedly, to fulfil a vow he had made before a successful battle.
Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays are special days for this Goddess, who is especially popular with rural folk. The Goddess is said to be very powerful, and grants the wishes of her devotees. People afflicted with chicken/small pox pray to the Goddess for succor. Abisheka water sprinkled o them ensures their speedy recovery, it is said, Angapradakshinam (rolling around the prakaram) by devotees is a common sight. The temple is a favourite with Indians settled abroad, espacillay in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Fiji. mariamman is the family deity of these Tamil-speaking settlers.
How to get there: Samayapuram is 15km from Trichy, on the Tiruchi-Chennai National Highway. Buses ply at regular interval.