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Theru Festival of Arulmigu Sri Muthumari Amman Kovil, Matale

ARULMIGU Sri Muthumari Amman Hindu Kovil situated about a kilometre to the far north end of Matale town celebrated the annual 'Theru' festival this year on February 23 - Navam Full Moon Poya Day.


At the height of the festival

This kovil was established about 200 years ago by the Hindu community specially the South Indian traders who did business around Matale town and tea estates.

The history of this kovil records that a cute little child was seen at the present premises of this kovil and on the following day, a beautiful dress was found in the premises which the cute little child wore.

On the same day, at night Goddess Pattini had appeared in a dream of one Nallamuttu, and the Goddess Pattini had told Nallamuttu the child who was seen at the premises was Goddess Pattini and had requested Nallamuttu to make this premises a holy place for Hindus. Since then this place became a Hindu kovil.

In the month of February the annual 'Theru' festival is held to evoke the blessings of gods and specially Goddess Pattini.

The early morning 'poojas' start at dawn with the hoisting of the flag. The morning 'poojas' go on till about noon. The evening 'poojas' start at six and continue till mid-night. Thousands of devotees flock to this kovil to offer 'poojas'.

The 'Theru' carts or the chariot ceremony is held on the 25th day which usually falls on a full moon day. The statues of Lord Murugan, Sivan Ambal, Shri Ganeshan, Shandeshulary and Goddess Pattini are kept in five beautifully illuminated and decorated chariots drawn by devotees, both Hindus and Buddhists, are taken along the streets in the day time.

The feeble and the sick who cannot visit the kovil to offer 'poojas' are believed to be visited by Goddess Pattini at their door-step.

Long ago before the chariots were made the statues of gods were taken around the kovil premises on the shoulders of the devotees.

Later the Hindus with the help of Buddhists, Muslims and Christians collected funds to build a chariot to take Goddess Pattini around the streets. Later three more chariots were added now there are five chariots.

This year the 'Theru month' started on January 31 with the 'kap' planting ceremony. During the holy month devotees from all parts of Sri Lanka and South India come to this kovil to offer 'poojas' and get the blessings.

The Hindus and Buddhists in the town decorate their houses and shops with traditional decorations like banana and arecanut plants, mango leaves and 'gokkola'.

T. Marimuttu Chettiyar, president, Kovil Management Board said that to conduct these holy rituals of this festival, highly educated religious dignitaries have been appointed by the board and a religious ceremonies are being conducted according to the Hindu traditions and age-old customs. Every event is done according to the auspicious time.

Taking the five 'Theru' carts out of the kovil premises to parade along the streets and bringing them back to the kovil are regarded as highly religious and sacred ritualistic performances.

The Kovil Management Board has almost completed the 108 feet high 'Raja Koburum' which lies on the northern entrance known as 'Vadakku Veli Veedi' which will lead to 'Mulasthanam', where Goddess Pattini is.

This 'Theru' festival of Muthumari Amman Kovil in Matale is a symbol of unity among Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

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