Maaligaipurathu Amman is the goddess who has been given a place very near to the main shrine of Lord Iyyapa in Sabarimala.
Maaligaipuarathu amman was the sister of demon Mahishasura by name Mahishi. She was cursed by a demonand was turned into a buffalo headed demon. Since she was troubling the people there Lord Iyyapa fought with her. In the end she was killed by him. She was released from the curse and turned into a beautiful woman after this defeat in the hands of lord iyyapa.
She requested Lord Iyyapa to marry her as he had liberated her and bacame her saviour. Lord iyyapa gently turned down her appeal citing his vow of ” naisteega brahmacharya” or eternal celibacy. She persisted with her demand. Lord Iyyapa asked her to stay near his abode at Sabarimala. He promised her that when there was no single kanni iyyapa that is a first timer devotee coming to have his darshan after observing the 41 day virath, he the lord will accept her marriage proposal.
There is a practice among the pilgrims who are making their first maiden holy trip to sabarimala leave an arrow at a place called sharamkutti.
Beginning with the makaravillaku day the Maaligaipurathu Amman leaves her shrine for 3 continuous days and goes to inspect for the signs she longs for. Every year the number of kanni swamis are only increasing much to her dismay. Her departure from her abode is marked by splendour and pomp. She is carried on a decorated elephant with the auspicious sounds of chendai and drums.Her return journey is solemn and conspicous for its sense of remorse. She dejectedly goes inside her shrine and waits with hope for the next Sabarimala season.
It is believed that sometime back in one of the divine prasannam the lord himself specifically instructed that she be given a place on his left side. It is also a practice that the sabarimala devotees carry a pair of blose piece material with them and perform a special puja to Maaligaipurathu Amman. They pray for the marriage of a female member of their dear and near ones. They leave one blouse material at her feet and bring the other back. It is given to the one for whom the prayers were offered. The common belief is that Maaligaipurathu Amman grants the boon and feels happy that atleast other female devotees are blessed to enter into matrimony unlike her.
She is adorned in gold, holds a conch, chakra and in abhayahasta mudra pouring out her blessings to the devotees thronging the shrine.
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