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Alternate names called by devotees.
- Karuppu Sami
- Karuppanaar Sami
- Kulla Karuppanaar
- Sangili Karuppan
- Pathinettampadiyan (18-steps Karuppa samy)
- Sinna Karuppasamy
- Periya Karuppasamy
- Sonai Karuppasamy
- Munnodi Karuppasamy
Historical TraditionKaruppu in Tamil means Black and Velu Sami means God. Hence he is associated with darkness, night, etc. It also signifies the fact that Dravidians are essentially a black-skinned race and hence his color of skin. In the ancient Tamil society, people venerated the Veerargal (or warriors) and had the formless stones (Veera Kal or Veerakkal) or Nadukkal erected in memory of them. These fallen warriors or any persons who sacrificed their life for a good cause such as protection of the welfare of the society or the community are revered by all. Karuppanar is believed to protect the poor, and ensure justice and self-discipline among his believers. It is believed that whenever crime arises, He comes riding in a white horse to save the poor and the needy, and to establish justice. It is also believed that He is a fierce warrior who never forgives those who sinned or those who commit crimes. It is believed that He shoos away all evils and devils from entering the village.
ShrineThe Karuppanar Kovil (or a shrine) is always found in the outskirts of the Village. The maintenance of the temple is taken care of by the whole of the village. His temple is usually in the open space and will not have traditional Gopurams like any other temples. You can see big statues of Gods with weapons like bow and arrow, swords, knives and other protective weapons alongside Him. There will also be statues of other Goddesses (18 Kannimaar or the 18 Virgins) in His temples. Animals, often signifying His pets - a dog (Vettai Naai or a hunting dog), a lion and His ride - the white Horse are also found. The most famous temple for Karuppasamy is located at AzagharKoil, near Madurai.Here he is worshipped as Pathinettampadi Karuppu.He is considered as the guardian deity of this temple.
The deityThe main form of worship of Karuppanar in the shrine is a formless stone which has been decorated with a Turban and a Dhoti with flowers and garlands. He wields an "Aruval" which is a long form of machete resembling a scimitar, a sword, sometimes a lance, a trident and a smaller knife. The Aruval is a very significant weapon in Tamil Nadu and is considered, in itself, as a symbol of Karuppanar himself. Some Aruvals may reach the height of even 5 feet, especially the ones in Thiruppaachhi.
WorshipKaruppanar worship is a very ancient ancestral clan-based worship system. Most officiating priests are non-Brahmins and derive from local lineages that had initiated the cult generations ago. The worship pattern is non - Vedic or non - Agamic through Folk tales, Folk songs and Folk arts (Villu pattu, Karagam, Koothhu, etc). The local priest might offer flowers or Veeputhi (holy ash) or Holy flowers to the worshippers and may play the role of an oracle for Shamanism. Various persons within the clan system are identified to play to the role of oracle on annual turn basis. They undertake vradham and maintain chastity and purity during the period of vradham. During the festivals, oracles get into trance state (Saami aadudhal) and deliver counselling messages to the group assembled there without bias. The normal problems addressed are family problems, financial troubles and local community and social issues for resolving within the community group with the agreement of local ancestral god through oracle. Whenever the wishes of the people are granted, they give their offerings to Him based on what they vowed to offer.
The village committee would decide on when the Annual mass convention be conducted. The time of the year when this would fall varies with villages and their local customs - each of which will be associated a folk-lore. Generally, the mass convention assembly of a large number of related family members is organized during the spring season for a period of 2 to 3 days. The commencement of the festival will be with that of a hoisting of the flag and tying the "Kaappu." After this time, villagers cannot go out of the village but can come in from a different village. During this annual gathering, a large number of goats and chicken are sacrificed for Lord Karuppanar. He is also offered Beedis (country - made cigarettes) or cigars and Naravam (toddy = locally instilled alcohol) or some form of modern alcohol. One interesting fact of special mention is the belief of the village people that the Karuppu samy is being disguised in the form of the priest who is asked to predict the future. This belief system about Karuppu samy is called the Arul vaaku or Saamiyaaduthal in several parts of Tamil Nadu. The social issues will be discussed through these temple fore-tellers (also called as Kodangi) whom the people usually consider as the voice of the Karuppa sami deity. When Lord Karuppa sami addresses the people in different villages through the Kodangi, different issues and dimensions on the social, cultural and psychological aspects of the village and the society are reviewed for possible solutions.
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