The History and Worship of Sri Sottakaara Ayyanar
Keywords:Sri Sottakaara Ayyanar, Ramaiah, Thirumalai Naicker, Sokkampatti
In the ancient world, religion was worship of those the early humans feared from fire, lightning, rain, fierce animals – mostly the natural elements that they couldn’t understand or have a control upon. Over time, it evolved into worship of fellow human beings who lost their lives in defending their clan against the other clans. This practice is a phenonmena noticed across the globe revealed by archaeological excavations. It was termed as Hero Stone in India. Plenty of such hero stones are found all over Tamilnadu, a province in South India. Some of these warriors and men/women who either lived and sacrificied their lives for the good of the society or performed extraordinary feats were worshipped as Gods and temples were built for them. Rituals of worship, a mix of standard activities like lighting lamps along with unique rituals recollecting the deeds of the person elevated to the position of God were created and festivals were constituted. These were done to ensure the sacrifices made were remembered, appreciated and cherished long after they were gone.
Ramaiah, the chief of a cavalry unit in the kingdom under Thirumalai Naicker, who ruled Madurai region 500 years ago, is one such human being who was elevated to the status of a God for his bravery when faced with a personal crisis in his life. There are a few versions of his life story that has lived for centuries in the minds of people and through folk lore. The popular version of the story involves Ramaiah and his younger siblings Ramanna and Ramakka in which they had to live a life of exile, hiding in a cave in a mountainous area now called as Sokkampatti, to escape the wrath of the King Thirumalai Naicker. Ramaiah had to kill his siblings and himself when the soldiers of the king surrounded them. In those days, people who killed themselves to save their honor rather than getting caught and humiliated, were considered brave. The person who helped them live a life in hiding sacrificed his life for failing to protect them and their dog was killed by the soldiers. The villagers surrounding this region, built a temple in their memory and conduct a grand festival every 7-10 years which attracts visitors from far and wide, and even from beyond the shores. Ramaiah has been christened as Sri Sottakaara Ayyanar and has become a much revered deity. The frenzy and glamour of the festivities are presented in a photo story at the end of the book.
The book would be a fascinating read to witness how the life of a mortal is being rejoiced even after 500 years surviving the test of time.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.