Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SanJeevi Chowdeshwari

People who sacrifice their life for the well being of others are often considered as demigod in those days. This is a story of a girl who became a demigod by her selfless action. Her sacrifice is even remembered today by the members of her clan and other communities too. Usually, gods are worshipped in Idol and picture forms. Idols can be of carved, sculptured or it can be a simple stone form. However, the specialty of Sanjeevi Chowdeshwari Amman temple is the decapitated head of a girl! Sanjeevi Chowdeshwari temple is a small temple located at the heart of a quite neighborhood in siddhaya Kotai of Roadulapuram in Dindugal dist. of Tamil Nadu.

It is very similar to any other temple, however what makes it different from the rest is the worship of a Decapitated head of a young girl, which is not Mummified. Egyptians mummified their deads, however after some time these mummies are shrunk, and losses it originals form reducing to gory objects. The decapitated head of a girl is still fresh, and none of the parts have decayed even after many several years. Devotees who have seen it describe it to be as fresh as young woman's face. Devotees are allowed to touch and feel it. Those who have seen it and felt it say that it is no different from a live person. Those who have seen Amman regularly say the hair has grown to a considerable length, there is a visible smile on the face, and sometimes have twinkles in her eyes. This piece of head (Amman) is kept on display once in 2 years during Shivarathri, which normally falls some where in feb/march. This year they had displayed it for the devotees. So, the next display is in 2012.

The faithful clans  built this temple to show their respect and solidarity for Sanjeevi. Devangas is a tight nit community whose primary occupation is weaving. Their History dates back to Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara smarajya era. Krishna Devaraya was a noble statesman; he encouraged arts, architecture, and literature. Hampi was the Capital of Vijayanagr. During his rule, everyone was extremely happy. The kingdom was formed to avoid the upraising Islamic Invasion. The empire's legacy includes many monuments spread over South India, the best known being the group at HampiWhen Bohemians invaded Hampi, which was a bloody battle made hampi weavers to migrate to different parts of India. One such group came to South India and settled at Roadalapuram in Dindukal Dist.
There is a heart-wrenching story behind this temple. After settlling down at the new place, a couple had a baby girl and they named her Sanjeevi. The clans considered her as divine, god’s child. She was a very beautiful child-she had earned everyone’s love and respect. Sanjeevi grew up to be a beautiful young woman-she had pleasant disposition and an aura of charm. Many men wanted to marry her. The neighboring Kannivadi Zameen learnt about her, he too desired to marry her. However, the parents declined the proposal as the Zameendhar was from a different community. This angered the zameendhar, and he owed to destroy anyone who opposes this match. Sanjeevi realized that it was her beauty that has endangered her clans. So, she decides to destroy the beauty. In order to save her clan, she torched herself. Till her neck, her body completely charred, however her head remained in act. The people recovered the head and hid it in a cave near sirumalai. For many hundred years this story was passed on to the new generations, just century ago, a cowered who was wondering around the cave discovered the decapitated head and handed it over to the clan members. Clan members took great care of it, built a temple and kept it for everyone’s site.

Once in two years, during Mahashivaratri Sanjeevi's head is displayed for public view. She is made to ware gold ornaments and is nicely decorated. People in that community believe it is only after the temple they have financially progressed. Their faith on Sanjeev Chowdeshwari Amman is unshakable. Every year invitations are sent out to Zameen family too to attend the festival. The zameen and Devangas come together to celebrate and to worship ''Sanjeevi Chowdeshwari Amma'' if you want to see this Amman the best time is Shivaratri. If you're looking for a different experience this might be the one.


  1. is it possible for u to put the blog in tamil there are so many tamil editing softwares such as NHm are there. its easy to read and will reach more people

  2. Sure, that isn't a problem :-) Thank you for the comments.

  3. Thanks so much for this post Kamala.
    I am a resident of Sitthayankottai and the story mentioned above is true. Thanks to the Mani Chettiar family who have preserved this over the years and maintained the goddess so long in the interest of the community.

  4. That is truly amazing, sir. Have you seen the Amman during the Maha Shivaratri display?

  5. Can you Pl. Write to me how old is Shia temple of nandavaram no one is able tell me please help me

  6. Can you Pl. Write to me how old is Shia temple of nandavaram no one is able tell me please help me


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