Ayyanar - The Guardian Deity
Ayyanar, also spelled as Aiyanar or Ayanar is a guardian deity of Tamil Nadu and the villages nearby. He is believed to protect the villagers from evil spirits and demons threatening their peace and happiness. The prefix attached to his name, ‘Ayya’ or ‘Aiya’ is used to designate respectable people. Also the term is used for elder brothers. His responsibility of protecting his people gives him this status of an elder brother. The images and shrines of AyyanarAyyanar
Ganga is worshipped both as a deity and as a pious river to wash the sins of humans.... are located at the boundaries of the villages as the deity doesn’t allow any negativity to enter the lives of the villagers. Devotees also visit his temple or shrine to ask for a solution for an internal issue. Anyone who has a problem with another villager, visits his temple, offer 12.50rs and write a complaint on a piece of paper. The paper is then presented to the god with a belief that he will take some appropriate action and the problem will be soon resolved.
Normally, Brahmins It is one of the caste of Hindus. They are known for their knowledge of ancient, sacred scripturesperform ritualistic activities in temple but in the temples of Ayyanar, non-Brahmins are given the opportunity and mostly people belonging to potter caste, also known as Velar caste, officiate in his temples. The priest should know how to make idols from clay and should be a non-vegetarian. Usually the responsibility is passed on from the eldest family member to the next of kin. Thus Ayyanar is also known as the god of the poor or of the masses. Devotees offer small terra cotta horses and iron tridents in order to get their wishes fulfilled.
Ayyanar was once travelling in the village named Chithakoor, Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu, while riding his horse. He liked the environment of this place and decided to reside there. He went to the houses of many people and knocked their doors. He asked them to build a hut so that he could live in it but no one acknowledged his request. He then warmed them and said that they will see his steed next to the water source of the village in the morning. The next day, they came across the sacred steed and realized that the man who visited them last night was in fact Ayyanar and started building a hut from him with sticks and leaves and since then it is believed that Ayyanar resides in Chithakoor.
It is also believed that once the water source near the village dried and everyone prayed to Ayyanar. The deity decided to help his people and asked them if they wanted rain or just the water source to be filled back again. They opted for the second option and soon without a single drop of rain the pond was filled.
People from the Dravidian cult, have been worshipping this deity since ages. Blood sacrifices of animals like chickens and goats were a part of their rituals. Ayyanar was often linked with nature and fertility. He was earlier depicted through huge images, accompanied by larger than life attendants.
There are also various festivals related to him that were celebrated in sacred groves during spring seasons. He is usually worshipped in open grounds that are surrounded by trees. The temples are usually not big buildings but a small arena where an idol is placed and given all due respect by offering flowers and prayers.
Ayyanar is often depicted with a strong built, as a warrior. He is either on foot or riding horse or elephant, also accompanied by his men-in-charge. He either carries a whip or a scepter symbolizing the punishments he gives to the sinners. They also present his judgment skills. He is also seated in between his two consorts named Poorna and Pushkala. He wears a mediation band at times. The band is made up of a cloth which circles his back and supports his knees too. He is always depicted with an attendant and that can be a beautiful nymph or god’s vassal or a demon. His most important companion is a fierce looking deity with a moustache and a large sickle named Karuppusamy.
It is believed that wherever Ayyanar is prayed to, justice prevails that village.
Brahmins- a class known as the learned ones
Dravadian cult- speakers of Dravidian language