Greenwood Park temple to celebrate Gargum prayers

Published Jul 9, 2024


The Greenwood Park Shree Ranganathar temple was built in 1903 as a wood and iron temple for the community.

It is very closely associated with the settlement and growth of the village of Greenwood Park.

The Gargum prayer is a way of giving thanks and praise to the Divine Mother Adi Para Shakti in her various manifestations and forms, such as Mother Mariammen and Mother Kali.

Greenwood Park Temple secretary, Ashlin Ellan, said the Gargum prayer was being done for the first time in the temple's 121 years of existence.

“The Divine Mother Mariammen Prayer started in 1995 at the temple. It has grown in strength with the blessings from the Divine Mother. Devotees have requested that we perform the Gargum prayer, with the spiritual guidance of Guru Mahesan and the blessings of the Divine Mother Mariammen we are able to commence with the prayer this year.”

The Gargum is a decorated pot which is personified as the deity Mother Shakti or Ammen, this is called a Shakti or Ammen Gargum.

Ellan explained: “We create a visually striking representation of the goddess in the form of a Gargum, which is carried by devotees on their head.

“In ancient times, the Gargum was carried from river beds, the pots were filled with water from the river and carried to the temple by the devotees of Mother Shakti.”

The Gargum translates to a water vessel and is prepared by filling the pot with water and sacred offerings such as betel leaves, betel nuts, a coin, flowers, turmeric, neem leaves and lime. The outer part is decorated with flowers, neem leaves and with the placement of the lime on the top.

Once complete, the Gargum is believed to be a manifestation of the Goddess Mariammen, the rain goddess. The water in the Gargum symbolises the shakti (energy) of Goddess Mariammen.

“The prayer festivities will commence on Wednesday July 17, with the soaking of porridge and thereafter the prayer service will be held weekdays until the main prayer being done on Sunday.”

Throughout the week, the festivities will continue with devotees assembling their Gargum and decorating the Gargums to personify the beauty and power of the divine mother.

“The prayer procedure on Sunday will commence with the kalsam prayer, havan and abishegam (sacred bath)for the divine Mother Shakti.

“The Gargum procession will thereafter leave the Ganesha temple and proceed to the Shree Ranganathar Temple going around the temple thrice. The Gargums will be placed in front of Mother Shakti, thereafter the Madurai Veeran prayer will be conducted and the conclusion prayer will be performed.

“After the prayer, a very unique traditional dance is practised by the temple called the Gummi Dance, and it is performed by the women, young and old, in praise of the divine mother.”

The prayer is dedicated to Goddess Mariammen is believed to be an incarnation of the Goddess Parvathi, the eternal goddess or the power of the universe. Shakti as the divine mother, is portrayed as cosmic energy in its dynamic form.

“Being the divine mother of the universe she is ever ready to heed the call of her devotees as such an instance this force manifested as Muthu Mariammen. Muthu means pearls, Mari meaning rain and Ammen meaning rai. Thus being titled Mother of rain which is more precious than pearls.”

He said the prayer had started years ago because of the measles plague.

“During the pre-Aryan days there were villagers in India who lived in the time of drought and people were plagued with measles and mumps.

“The suffering intensified and the need for divine intervention intensified. The Goddess manifested, garbed in yellow and carrying a vessel of fermented maize meal and some sringa leaves in the state of Samayapuram.

“The mother fed the ill with the porridge and nursed them with a mixture of sringa leaves and turmeric paste. She continued healing the sick and when her work was done she retired to the forest. The name porridge prayers is given to this worship due to the main offering of the prayer being the fermented porridge that is said to have a cooling effect on the measles and mumps that the people were plagued with.”

During the recent years the temple has attracted a crowd of approximately 500 devotees for the prayer festival; and they anticipate the crowd to continue to grow and devotees to come and receive the blessing of the divine mother Mariammen.

Ellan said the devotees were looking forward to the Gargum festival and hoped others would join their festivities.

The Greenwood Park Temple devotees, Ashlin Ellan, Honorary Secretary, and Nadarajan (Nad) Pillay, Chairman, offering prayer to Mother Shakti with Guru R Mahesan, Officiating Priest. Photo: Khaya Ngwenya
The Greenwood Park Temple devotees, Ashlin Ellan, Honorary Secretary, and Nadarajan (Nad) Pillay, Chairman, offering prayer to Mother Shakti with Guru R Mahesan, Officiating Priest. Photo: Khaya Ngwenya
The Greenwood Park Temple society, Ashlin Ellan, Honorary Secretary, and Nadarajan (Nad) Pillay, Chairman, with Guru R Mahesan, Officiating Priest. Photo: Khaya Ngwenya

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