Anecdotal History Of Veeramakaliamman

It is commonly assumed that Veeramakaliamman is Kali, a Hindu Goddess. However, she is an ancestor called Veeramma, who is worshiped as a deity in many countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Perhaps the most popular temple is the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in Singapore, where she resides as the primary deity. 
Superbly decorated Veeramakaliamman Statue in Singapore 
Over the centuries, the name Veeramma has fused and changed into many different names.  The words Veeramma (original name), Kali (Hindu Goddess attributed to any angry deity) and Amman (A Tamil title for one who attains godly status) have all been used together. In some places it is called Veeramma Kali Amman temple, others Veeramakali Temple and yet others Veeramma Talli Temple. Folklore tells us a fascinating story of her, and how she became a God of the masses.
A woman devotee rolls on the floor in Veeramma Kaliamman temple, India
Around 750 A.D, Veeramma (Tamil: வீரம்மா) was a teenage girl living in the village of Onangudi, in South India. She had 4 elder brothers and had parents had passed away. They belonged to the potter (kuyavar) community. All the 4 brothers had gotten married and they were all living together as a joint family. Everyday, the brothers would go to the pottery in the morning and return after dark. The sisters-in-law would take them lunch during noon, leaving Veeramma in the house. In those days, it was customary for unmarried girls to not leave the house.
Veeramma Kaliyambal temple in Batticaloa, Srilanka
Veeramma was a very active girl and often got bored staying inside the house. One day, she pestered her sisters-in-law to accompany them to the pottery. They agreed reluctantly and all the women including Veeramma walked through the forest, which was the usual route to the pottery. When they reached the middle of the jungle, a hunter was aiming his arrow on a deer. When he released the arrow, the male deer jumped and the arrow pierced through the its genitals and hit Veeramma in the groin. Veeramma screamed and her sisters-in-law removed the arrow safely, and also watched the poor deer bleed to death.  Veeramma's wound soon healed, but it was the beginning of a disaster.
Women devotees in Veeramma Kaliamman temple in Kokkuvil, Sri lanka
After 3 months, Veeramma started getting sick. She vomited often and was always feeling dizzy. She could not understand what was going on. Soon, her belly started growing and the sisters-in-law realized that she had become pregnant. When they told the brothers, they were shell-shocked. When the brothers questioned Veeramma, she could not understand what they were angry about. She had no idea what pregnancy was and insisted that she was just sick. The brothers pressed on and asked her if she was a having a secret relationship with a man. She did not understand anything about that either.
Veeramma Kali Amman Statue in Moreh, Manipur, India
Soon, the news of her pregnancy spread through the potter community and the village of Onangudi. During those times, it was a great disgrace to become pregnant if a girl was unmarried. She was brought before the villagers and was questioned again. Veeramma insisted that she had never touched a man and she has done nothing wrong. The villagers decided to extract the truth by torturing her, and her brothers agreed to this.

First, they made her a carry a pot of burning charcoal with her bare hands. While they thought this would burn her hands and she would tell the "truth", she carried the fire pot happily. The villagers were shocked to find out that hands were unharmed. Next, they impaled her nose and tongue with spears. When they removed the spears, Veeramma did not bleed or show any signs of being hurt. Finally they ordered that she be whipped until she confesses. She stood happily until the whipper's hands were tired.
Priest carrying fruits in Veeramma Kaliamman temple, India 
Unable to extract the "truth" out of her, the villagers decided to kill her. They tried to decapitate her, but the sword did not hurt Veeramma. Finally, they stabbed her in the womb several times and then she started bleeding. Out of the stab wounds in her belly came a dead baby deer. The villagers were shocked at this, and then the sisters-in-law explained what happened in the forest several months ago. The brothers and the villagers tried to save innocent Veeramma in vain. However, it was too late and she passed away.

That night, the villagers put her body in a pot (muthumakkal thazhi), and buried her. However, in the next few days she started appearing in dreams and in front of people who were walking alone. First born children started disappearing and were found killed on her burial ground. She appeared on her brothers' dreams and asked for first born children to feed on them. The terrified villagers brought in a priest and he made her apparition appear.
Priest in a trance (veriyattam) in Veeramma Kaliamman temple - Manipur, India
Veeramma insisted that any first born child in the potter community be sacrificed for her, to quench her thirst. The villagers and the priest begged her for options. So, Veeramma came up with alternatives.

1. Anyone in the potter community must create a Veeramma temple as soon as they reach a new destination. If they did not, their first born child would die.
2. Once a year, all the villagers must punish themselves by carrying fire pots, whipping and self impalement. This was retribution for the same torturous activities carried out on her.
3. A chicken or a goat must be sacrificed in her temple, when a family has their first born child. This will save the child from harm and quench Veeramma's thirst for blood.
4. Food and Broth (Koozhu) must be distributed freely in the temple, every year.
Priest carries a fire pot with bare hands - Manipur, India
From that day onwards, Veeramma has become the primary deity of the potter community (kula saamy). Whenever potters move to a new city, the build a Veeramma temple immediately. The most famous temple in Singapore, now called Veeramakaliamman temple is a perfect example. When a small group of potters came to Singapore in 1843, they immediately created a small clay statue of Veeramma, which later expanded into a fantastic temple.
Idol at Veeramma Talli temple in Vuyyuru, Andhra Pradesh, India
In India, there are hundreds of such temples in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and even in Manipur. In Sri Lanka, these temples are found in Jaffna, Kaddaipirai and many other locations. In Malaysia, there are almost a hundred Veeramakaliamman temples. Her temples are also found in Singapore, Mauritius and Fiji. However, due to ban on animal sacrifice and pressure from Hindus, these temples are slowly becoming agamic Kali temples.
Veeramakaliamman temple in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, India
Veerammakali Amman temples still stand today, as a symbol of an innocent girl's death. Similar Gods like Meenakshi Amman and Periyachi Amman also have interesting history behind them. Once a year, devotees still carry fire pots, whip themselves and impale their bodies in memory of her. When a first born baby arrives, it is taken to her temple and asked for her forgiveness. Veeramakaliamman's story is indeed one of the most touching and riveting of all Tamil Gods.

8 comments:

Pl.Note these are not take as history. and there is no any evidents .these are only stories made to people to come to temples . in tamil nadu hundreds of stories on this kinds of miracles. all are believed by brought up by theire anchesters to make bilieve them

please note. These are not history these are only stories. thereis no any evidents ore writtenevidents.In tamil nadu hundreds of stories like this.These are all believed by people to day because of they have brought up by their ancestors.The only reason is to bring people to the temples in large numbers and collect money.

Hi Ramalingam, Thank you for your comment. While it is true that there is no written evidence (hence anecdote), I have traced the origin of Veeramakaliamman to Veeramma, a Tamil ancestor. For argument's sake: even if you say such a person did not exist, the point remains that Veeramma temples started in Tamil Nadu independent of the Hindu God Kali from North India. Later, her temples were modified as proper Hindu temples, by the addition of name Kali - Veerammakaliamman. Do you agree?

thanks for your response .pl. wait for my comments . it will take some time. i will sent some of these kind of stories from ramayan and mahabarath it will prove my comments. thanks once again and i am sorry for this.

Good to learn the story of Veeramakaliamman. I too belong to potter caste and we worship her at home. Thanks for this good information.

hi ramalingam i will show you veeramma kali when you come to chennai (red hills).............soon

Hi I'm SARAVANAN belong to the village Onangudi now I'm collecting information about my god veermakaliamman.......
Soon I will reply.....

Hi
I am Pandimuthu live onanagudi, arimalam, pudukkottai, tamilnadu. Now working alagappa university, karaikudi, sivaganga, tamilnadu. Very useful the information here, all of the additional information where go to collect sir. The reason for amman temple "maha kumbabisegam" estimate dated as February-2016. We are publish “History of Amman “ please give more information
Thanking you

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