ChettinaduTamil Nadu

Ritual offerings at an Ayyanar temple in Chettinadu for Tamil New Year

Ayyanar temple, Chettinadu, Tamil New Year

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 )

Ayyanar temple, Chettinadu, Tamil New Year

Terracotta horses at an Ayyanar temple

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 .

Ayyanar temple, terracotta horses, Chettinadu

Row of terracotta horses

Terracotta horses at an Ayyanar temple

Terracotta horses at an Ayyanar temple

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.

Chettinady, Ayyanar temple

Horses that are offered as sacrifice

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..


  1. Chaitali Patel 23 April, 2014 at 17:19 Reply

    Fascinating to see how each community has their own unique traditions and customs. I have seen one stray horse statue on my travels in TN, but never so many. Chettinadu is one of those places that I so want to visit…

  2. Jeevan 14 April, 2016 at 16:45 Reply

    Interesting custom and beautiful perspective on the horses! Wish i visit this place sometime… Ayyanar statues are my favorite things to shoot.

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