17 July, 2010
Check out these abandoned wooden idols. They are called Gadi Maari gombes. Gadi means 'border', Maari is short for Maaramma, a Goddess and Gombe means idol/ doll. Part of your landscape if you live in the Malnad region of Karnataka, you will come across these abandoned figurines on the outskirts of towns and villages.
Maari/ Maaramma, Chaudi/ Chaudeshwari, Gutti/ Guttamma,.... are some of the popular guardian Gods of Malnad. They are mainly worshipped for protection - from diseases, ghosts,..... Maari is usually worshipped for protection from contagious diseases.
Sometime towards the end of summer and before the onset of the rains (the disease season!), a committee of villagers - belonging to various communities, decide to perform the pooja . First, the idol is carved - usually out of some holy tree like the Banyan or the Jack. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the rituals. I have never been invited and I have absolutely no intentions of gate-crashing! My only involvement has been in the form of the Rs.50/- donation that I'm sometimes expected to make!
Post rituals, the idol is taken out in a procession and abandoned on the outskirts - within the boundary of the neighbouring village. It is to symbolise that Maaramma has come & gone, taking all the ills and diseases with her! From here, it is like a relay for the idol - from one village to the next, until it reaches no-man's land like forest, river,...where it stays. In fact, you'll find many such abandoned idols in the middle of the Agumbe ghaut! Termites and natural elements take over and the idol just disintegrates.
From the fresh look, this idol seems to have been abandoned recently. I don't know why the male figure known as Maara is never really given any prominence. Maybe, he is only the lady's bodyguard? In fact, his presence has always confused me!!
Maara is Manmatha, not exactly a friend of Shiva, and, Maari, is an avataar of Durga- Shiva's best pal!
So, is Shiva okay with Maara-Maari going out together? Of course, he shouldn't mind - after all, they are fighting diseases and that is a good cause! Now, M-M means fighting in Hindi! Mix it up what I'm saying and it is such a funny rigmarole- Maara- Maari doing Maara-Maari!!
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