views updated

Māriyamnam (in Tamil, etc.; in Marāthī she is Māri-ai; and there are other forms). A Goddess of folk Hinduism worshipped by the lower castes in a wide area, from Mahārāṣṭra down to Tamilnadu. Her name consists of ‘mother, goddess’ (ammaṉ+D547 , āī) and the doubtful ‘killing’ (from Skt., mārī?). She is envisaged as violent, bloodthirsty, and creating havoc (outbreaks of epidemics), if not properly worshipped. This worship includes animal sacrifice, rites of possession, and sometimes fire-walking. Some connection with, or interference from, the mythology of Mahiṣa is possible here.