FEMININE WORSHIP: It is submitted that Battarika is the softened form of Kali in ‘penndeiva vazhipaadu’ or feminine worship. The principle can be seen in Tamil Sangam literature. Kotravai was the fierce primary feminine deity of the Sangam age and Goddess Uma gets superimposed on the Kotravai concept by mythological developments. In Ilangovadigal’s Silappathikaaram, Siva’s third eye – the ‘nuthal vizhi’ is attributed to Kotravai in Paripaadal. Uma gains prominence much later. A full chapter is allocated to Kotravai vazhipaadu – where worship of Durga is turned to the mild Kotravai. The first direct reference of Kotravai as Siva’s wife occurs in the Silappathikaaram. There is also a mention of these deties being worshipped by warriors, a principle connected to Pidari, in the Paripaadal – ‘Kotravai kolam kondor pen’. Amman worship is also known as ‘Kotravai Nilai’ in Tolkaappiyam. Pidari is the ferocious aspect of Amman also.
PIDARI - MOTHER KALI: Mother Goddess gives life but Kali takes life. She is the feminine form of Kala – time. Kali is the energy or the power of time. Her blackness swallows all that exists and the emptiness of space is her clothing, for when the universe is dissolved, the power of time remains without maya veil. Kali’s place in the Hindu pantheon is affirmed in the Markendeya Purana. She also gets mentioned in the Mahabaratha. Kali makes her debut as an independent sect within Shakti worship in the South. She is identified as Shiva’s consort Parvathi. Shakta cult grew from strength to strength along with Shaiva and Vaishnava sects. She eventually is linked to Shaivism. Shakti worship represented by the Yoni-Linga symbols of the Shiva cult reflects sexual symbolism partly due to female deities regarded as Shaktis of Shiva.
Kali’s extension, Pidari and her worship evolved as native warrior-ship, gaining importance with the influence of Tantrism where she is known as Kala Pidari. Pidari worship points towards proliferation and emancipation of female deities. Indeed Tantrism resulted in the development of individual goddesses. Pidari deity, in line with Shakti manifestations, seem to emphasise fierce but sexual symbolism. At times Pidari is the sole resident deity in a village. As devata, She is the all in all for the village from simple prayers to divine blessings. Otherwise she watches over the main deity of a temple in her role as ‘kaval deivam’ while taking her seat in a structure on the right hand side of a temple entrance. Prayers are offered to her as devotees proceed to the main sanctum-sanctorum.
In modern parlance we can say, ‘security guard’ but that is a demeaning description for want of illustration. Thus She joins the ‘kavaldeivam’ or Protection Gods’ similar to that of Ayyanar, Muniandy, Karuppana Swamy or Veerabahtra, all of whom are warrior cum protection village gods. Sacrifices to Pidari is common. During puja, say, when newly married couples come for a blessing, a goat or several chicken loose their heads and the whole village is blessed with prasada. It is common to offer sacrificial blood and alcohol, especially fermented drinks such as toddy. Pidari is also invoked and worshiped in tantric and aghori rituals.
DEPICTION: Pidari shares Kali’s attributes. She is depicted to hold a noose, trident, skull cup and a pointed knife. The noose is sometimes replaced by ankusha – the elephant goad. The damaru that she holds is entwined by a snake, thus sharing Siva’s characteristics. She has flaming hair and three eyes. Sometimes her breasts are decorated with snakes. She has a terrifying appearance with long incisor teeth to frighten off evil spirits. Her sculptures are sometimes synonymous with Goddess Mariamman also. Lime stringed as a garland – ‘elumichai malai’ is her favourite.
She is also represented by a simple stone image called ‘veerakkal’ symbolising courage and venerating ‘veerarghal’ – the warriors. Pidari is part of many Amman temples. In rural settings, it is believed that Pidari is the combined form of Lord Shiva and Shakti. ‘Adanghaa Pidari’ is another Tamil description of Goddess Pidari. ‘Adanghaa’ means ‘one that cannot be controlled’ implying, Pidari, once provoked does not subside her anger soon.
MYTHOLOGY: We are familiar with Daksha’s yajna in which he ignores Lord Siva. Dhakshayani attends the yagna and feels vexed to see the father having invited all the gods including Vishnu and Brahma. Daksha further insults Siva and Dhakshayani enters the yajna fires after cursing Daksha. Saint Naradha carries the news to Lord Shiva and the angry Rithra Thandavam shakes the earth. Sweat from his body fell down and Lord Veeravhadra and Pidari Badrakali emerge from it. They were ordered to destroy the yajna and kill Dakshan. They just did that. Devas and Gods beg for Dakshan’s life. Veerabathra slayed the head of a goat kept for yajna and that was attached to Dakshan’s severed neck to revive him. Dakshan apologised to Lord Siva. He follows Veerabathra to Anumanthapuram, which then was known as ‘Vetrilai Kaadu’ or Betel Garden. Goddess Pidari Bhadrakali joins them and stays near a lake in the village. It is said that the temple at Anumanthapuram is still visited for its evil-chasing attributes and Pidari’s blessings. Hari Om
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi