I think I should write about the Mariammen prayer this week and concentrate on the Guru pooja next week. In actual fact the preparations for the Mariammen prayer will commence as early as tomorrow when the porridge meal will be soaked to ferment.
Growing up in South Africa has exposed us to unique adaptations of various practices from India. One should not be totally surprised on a visit to India if no similarity exists in some of the prayers and rituals we undertake here in South Africa.
Porridge prayer as it is most commonly referred to by locals has become a must attend event in the diary of our communities, this proven by the thousands who descend on the temples to partake in the prayer and porridge prepared and offered to the mother.
But in some instances we see a deviation from the norm, where elaborate meal preparations are made and huge gatherings of family and friends arrive at the home. On one hand this creates a wonderful opportunity for family and friends to socialise but upon arriving home on reflection one will find that nothing except a full stomach and time with friends and family has been derived from that outing. In a way as South Africans we have managed to transform our festivals pregnant profound meaning into feasts.
The word Mari in tamil means rain, which immediately conjures the thoughts of preservation in me. When a seed emerges from the ground it is in immediate need of water in the form rain in order to sustain its growth and life. In the Devi Mahatmayam the divine mother is described in the powerful words as sristhi , sthithi and vinashanam. That is as the creative, preservative and dissolution power of the universe.
It is no wonder then that the Mother as Mariamma is worshipped in many rural farming villages for blessings in preserving life. South Africa has also not escaped her grace as many farming towns on the sugar belt are installed with her murthi.