The Pancharatha festival of Matale Sri Muththumari Amman
The Panchaaratha (five chariots) festival and water-cutting ceremony
of Matale Arulmigu Sri Muththumari Amman Thevasthanam will be held on
Monday 09.03.2009 commencing at 7.30 a.m. and Tuesday 10.03.2009 at 5.00
Matale Sri Muththumari Amman temple.
The Board of Management of the temple has made elaborate arrangements
to conduct this year’s festival successfully as in the past. In fact,
Matale is an ancient historical town and even pilgrims from South India
have visited this holy temple during the olden days and since then the
Chariot festival continued from generation to generation where Sri
Lankans irrespective of race, religion and caste participate in large
In Hinduism, the Supreme Lord is represented by Maheswara and His
power is represented by His Consort Sakthy. Just as the husband and wife
taking care of their family, so also does Siva and Sakthi look after the
affairs of the Universe. Sakthi is the embodiment of power. She is the
supreme power by which the world is made to function.
Lord Siva without Sakthi is all stillness, silence. It is Sakthi
which stirs him to motion and speech.
If Siva symbolises cosmic energy in its passive form, Sakthi
symbolises it in the dynamic form.
Further, it is difficult to separate one from the other and hence the
concept of ‘Ardha Narisa’. The manifest universe is the handwork of
In fact, the ‘Varaha Purana’ explains Sakthi in the form of Durga as
symbolising the hounds of passions, love, hate, greed, vanity, illusion,
contempt, envy, jealous - let loose in the strife of the eternal spirit
struggling for victory over dying matters and finally sublimating into
eternal good and light and these energies finally merging in the body of
In the Vedic utterances which are incontrovertible and unquestionable
has assigned the prime position to mothers among those to be revered.
The compassion she shows not only to her children, but also to the
community has no parallel.
In fact, Sri Muththumari Amman in Matale has done several miraculous
deeds to her devout devotees. Several years ago a woman who lost her
Thali during Ther festival got it back with the grace of Goddess Sri
Muththumari Amman. It is very often said that “the creator of the
Universe Brahma resides in the naval of Lord Vishnu.
Similarly in the hearts of men reside the creative urge and faith of
the world. This is clearly evident from the manner the people of Matale
pray to Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman. During the ‘Pancharatha’ festival
the statues of God Ganesha, God Murga with his consorts, Goddess
Muththumari Amman, God Siva-Parasakthi and God Sandeswarar are decorated
and illuminated and taken along the streets in chariots followed by
poojas, bhajans and archanai by devotees.
The deity therein and her consort.
The chariots are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees with no
racial differences where the rich and the poor mingle shoulder to
shoulder in pulling the chariots, clustering around the temple where the
In the tradition of the Hindu literature the ‘Rathas’ or chariots are
replicas of the human body.
The deity in the sanctum or on the chariot reminds us of the truth
that the God is seated in the heart of each individual. In fact, the
high towers of the temple with the marvellous decorations and motifs
denote man’s aspirations to Godhood.
During the festival Deities are taken out from the temple decorated
and mounted on Vahanas or vehicle like the horse or the elephant, for
The first is to help even those who are unable to visit the temple
with the Deity’s Dharshan and secondly to show the Maker of all
The Chariot which represents our body is yoked to four horses (the
sense organs) wherein the individual sit, dejected and despondent,
driven by the intellect which with the mind guide the horses.
The horses represent human passions and the reins symbolises the
necessity or restraining in guiding the passions. The journey of the
chariot through the streets is an emblem of progress of life and the
lesson is that throughout his life one must control and guide its
passion with the help of the soul.
These passions are the driving force of life, but if untrained and
unguided will wreck a man’s life. This is the symbolic meaning of the
chariot. If one worships Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman of Matale with
utter devotion they will undoubtedly receive Her Divine Blessings.
‘God is Love’ and ‘Love is God’. Even Bhagavad Geeta declares that
God resides in the hearts of all beings to revolve and His power causes
all beings to revolve as though mounted on a potter’s wheel.
Bhakthi is the path of devotion and love to that great power behind
all creations, the embodiment of all virtues. Undoubtedly, to a world
lost in error and weighted down by forces of darkness of ignorance and
arrogance, conflicts and contradictions, trials and tribulations, let us
all worship ‘Arulmigu Sri Muththumari Amman of Matale and utter Her pure
name and contemplate and surrender ourselves at Her Lotus feet for the
progress and success of our lives.
Siva Jayanthi - the birth of the unborn
Siv-Jayanti or Maha-Sivaratri is a great festival imbued with deep
spiritual significance. It is a religious festival sans any festive
It seems to have lost its great importance and meaning. In fact Siva
symbolizes the universally worshipped form of Eternal Light. Siva
literally means One who is the World Benefactor of all souls. Sivaratri
or Sivajayanti is therefore a memorial of the Divine Incarnation and
Divine Acts of the Incorporeal God Father Siva who performs the triple
role of Creation, Sustenance and Destruction. The Sivalingum denotes the
bodiless and Incorporeal form of God Siva.
The three parallel lines seen in the image of the Sivalingam
symbolizes the Divine Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shanker and the dot
represents the Eternally Pure, Subtle Light of God.
This supernatural most exalted, extra-ordinary birth of the unborn,
God Siva is celebrated in India on Chaturdashi, a day before Amavasya,
the pitch dark moonless night, in the last month of the Hindu calendar
Falgoon. Ratri signifies the darkness of ignorance when God, the Supreme
Being, opens our Third Eye of Knowledge and reveals once again the
Spiritual Truth about Himself and His Creation.
He also expresses pure emotions of love, mercy, kindness, compassion
and concern for the welfare of the world through Brahma. Brahma is the
Kalki avatar and Siva re-establishes the New World Order through him.
This is why Brahma is called the Creator. Vishnu is the sustainer of the
new Golden Age.
According to the ancient scriptures, it is predicted that the last
prophet to descend in the cycle would be called the Kalki Avatar. This
is sometimes known as Kalanki or Eklang. Which means defamation. This
Kalki avatar would be dressed in white and would be on a white horse. He
would receive great defamation, insults and ridicule until the time of
This is also written in the Book of Revelation- Chapter 3, verse 3,
quotes - ‘I will come as a thief in the night and thou shall not know
what hour I will come’.
This reveals that His Incarnation and entry would be incognito and
unannounced. Verse 4 says that there are few who have not defiled their
garments, meaning those who lived a life of purity in thoughts, words
This book of Revelation further continues to tell that they will walk
with Him dressed in white raiment or clothes worn down to the ankles. It
also describes how one should take control of the five senses as well as
conquer the five vices of lustful carnal desires, anger, greed,
attachment and ego.
These vicious traits have transformed a deity into a devilish being.
Nearly all religions also believe that the iron age is a period in human
history when mankind in general is steeped into ignorance, degradation,
worldly pleasures, vices and immorality and sins. A night signifies
utter darkness, deep slumber of ignorance, When there is no
Enlightenment of the Self and God.
This Divine mysterious birth is not known to scientists,
gynaecologists, physiologists, biologists, physicians and even the
layman, in the ancient texts there is a mention of Parkaya Pravesh, i.e.
the Supreme Soul’s entry into another one’s body.
That is why He is known as Swayambu, (self born). At present, this is
the most auspicious age called the confluence age, that is the end of
the vicious, old iron age and the beginning of the new, viceless golden
It is the Transit period, a bridge between the old and the new world,
when God Siva Himself incarnates to enable souls to imbibe and inculcate
divine, moral and spiritual values in order to Divinize the man and
establish a new socio-economic, socio-political, socio-spiritual order
known as the Golden Age.
Then man will again become a deity. It is mentioned in the Bhagwad
Gita, when the Ocean Himself is bestowing every treasure, why should we
stop at the pond, lake or river.
In India, there are twelve very famous temples known as Jyotirlingam
Maths, which are dedicated to the divine attributes of Siva. When souls
pray to God they say Om Namo Sivaya, that is Om means we are all souls
and bow down to and worship Siva. No one ever says Om Namo Shanker,
because Shankar is the memorial of a Subtle deity.
Apparently Siva and Shanker are distinctly different. Deities are the
highest and most elevated creation of God and come into the cycle of
birth and death in the physical plane and also experience the fruit of
their karma. God does not take a corporeal physical body like human
deities. He is free from karmic bondages and remains beyond experiencing
happiness and sorrow.
There have been legendary stories depicting how the most revered
deities like Sri Krishna and Sri Rama too invoked the blessings of God
Siva. He is called the Patit Pawan the purifier.
Deities were pure, divine human beings, completely virtuous, 16
celestial degrees perfect, Maryada Purshottom. They belonged to the Adi
Sanatan Devi Devata clan. Only the One God Father can grant liberation
and salvation to all souls as He is ever liberated and the Oceanic
source of all spiritual powers.
Mother Goddess - Aadi Parasakthi
Hinduism is unique in many aspects. For one it is not founded by
anyone. Secondly it is a religion which considers Motherhood as divine.
One’s relationship with the mother is very close. Only a mother can
forgive a child though a wrong doer. There is a meaningful saying by a
Western philosopher, “Because God cannot be everywhere, He created
Mother.” Who is so loving, compassionate, forgiving and merciful as a
Mother? So it is right in Hinduism to refer to God as Mother - Aadi
Parasakthi or Devi is the Divine Mother. In Hindu Parlance she is the
energy aspect of Lord Siva.
Said Aadishankarar, “If Sivam joins Sakthi everything is possible. If
she leaves Sivam can hardly move.”
Those words sum up what Sakthi (energy) is to Sivam (matter). But one
is indispensable to the other. Without Sivam can Sakthi have an
existence? She the Mother Goddess Sakthi is the cosmic energy - She is
Prakirithi. Siva is Purusha. In the presence of Purusha, Prakirithi
creates. Lord Siva is the silent witness while Sakthi does everything.
She is the omnipotent power of Lord Siva.
This Divine Mother is seen with ten different weapons in her hands.
She sits on a lion. She is Simhavahini, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Dhurga are
all her various forms. She is the Power of the Supreme Lord and Her
power manifests throughout the universe. The worship of Sakthi the
Universal Mother leads to one’s knowledge of the self. Goddess Sakthi
sheds wisdom on her devotees.
Adi Sakthi is beyond human understanding. The Upanishad says of
Sakthi, “The supreme power of God is manifested in various ways. This
power is of the nature of God, manifesting as knowledge, strength and
There is no limit to Her mercy, Her Grace is very great. Her
knowledge is boundless. One cannot measure her power nor her glory
describe. Her splendour is beyond anyone to describe. She gives
spiritual freedom to all.
In the year, there are many days set aside for Sakthiworship. These
days were mentioned in an earlier article. The most famous is Navarathri.
Nine nights are set aside for Sakthi in the form of Saraswathi in
September (The Tamil month of Puratathi - Sept. 15 to Oct. 15).
All these and the mythological stories were written many times over.
Kali is another form of Sakthi. Poet Kalidasa, Poet Barathi, Sri
Ramakrishna Paramahamsar were all Kali devotees. They have seen and
communicated with the Goddess. They have spoken and written about their
experiences. Siva and Parvathi also another manifestation of Sakthi, are
found as one form signifying the unity of Purusha and Prorate.
Like God Siva Aadiparasakthi also has many forms. She is Luxmy the
Goddess of Wealth, Saraswathy the Goddess of Learning, Durga the
courageous, Kali denoting time - kala, Thirupurasunthari the most
beautiful one of the three worlds, Puvaneswari the ruler of the
universe, Bairavi the powerful, Annapoorani, one who feeds all living
beings. According to mythology Thadchayani daughter of Thadchan flung
herself into the sacrificial fire when Thadchen was doing a Yaga.
God Siva, whose consort Parvathi’s incarnation was Thadchayani, took
her body and danced a vigorous ruthra tandavam - dance of anger. Seeing
this, God Vishnu threw His chakra ayutham and cut her body into bits.
Different parts of the body of Aadiparasakthi fell in different places
in India and they are called Sakthi Centres. There are about 108 such
It is said the Amman at Nagadeepa is also one such Sakthi Centre. The
places where the Sakthi Centres are at Kanchipuram, Madurrai,
Kanyakumari (Cape Comerin) and many other centres. In all there are 51
shrines of Sakthi. Energy can change from one form to another like light
energy to chemical energy, electric energy to sound energy and so on. So
does Aadi Parasakthi’s many forms.
Take an individual woman. She is seen in many roles - mother,
daughter, wife, sister but she is one. Same way with God Siva. A man is
a father, a husband, a son, a brother and so on, but he is one. So are
Aadi Parasakthi and Lord Siva - many forms but one entity.
There are numerous mythological stories and legends about Mahaluxmy -
another form of Sakthi. Aadi Shankarar, sworn to celibacy took only one
meal a day. One day he went to the house of one Somadevan and asked for
food. His wife Tharmaseeli was surprised, the sanyasi came to their
house to beg.
They were themselves poor. She went into the house and searched for
something to give the sanyasi. Theirs was abject penury. Finally she
found a withered fruit - nelli (Emblica officianalis - goose beri) and
offered it to him. The sanyasi realised their state. He prayed to
Goddess Mahaluxmy to help the poor family.
The Gooddess appeared before him and said, “This couple were Kubera
and his wife Susheelai in their previous birth. They once refused to
give alms to an old brahmin. As a result they are suffering this fate
However Shankarar pleaded with her saying, “She wholeheartedly gave
the nelli fruit to me. So she is absolved of the sin” and begged to have
pity on them. He then sang a hymn or psalm containing 21 songs called ‘Kanakathara’.
Goddess Mahaluxmy was pleased and cast a benign look at the house, and
suddenly golden nelli fruits showered down on the house.
The couple used the riches to lead a life of Dharma.