At an Ayyanar Temple in Chettinadu for Tamil New Year
Around mid April, Tamilians in India celebrate their new year as the month of Chithrai dawns. During this period, several ritual offerings are offered to many deities in temples. The local guardian deities are called Ayyanars and every village has an Ayyanar shrine.
(See my post on Ayyanar shrines around Tamil Nadu )
I was in Chettinadu recently, visiting some of the Ayyanar temples in the villages. I saw hordes of terracotta horses and elephants in the courtyard of the temples. I was told that these are symbolic offerings and are offered as sacrifice to the deity during Tamil New Year .
Around Pongal, which occurs in January, every family in a village decides how many horses and elephants they want to offer to the deity. The potters are commissioned to carve them by April. The horses and elephants are then offered to the deity. The blood of a sacrificed chicken is smeared on the forehead of these terracotta animals as a symbolic ritual.
On your next visit to Chettinadu, do not miss these shrines. I realized that almost every community and cult in India has unique rituals. Is there anything that you have heard and you would like to share ? Please let us know..