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Arulmigu Masani Amman Temple, often referred as Anaimalai Masani Amman Temple, is situated at the confluence of Aliyar River and the Uppar stream, in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu about 24 km south-west of Pollachi.
At this temple, Sri Masaniamman graces in a 17 feet long reclining form with Her head on the South and holding a skull, serpent, trident and udukkai in her hands looking skyward. This gigantic image of Masaniamman is painted with very bright colours. What fascinates one is not only the size of the image but also the posture of it. Nowhere else can one see the image of the Goddess in a lying posture. Other deities worshipped include Neethi Kal (the stone of justice) and Mahamuniappan.
There are several uncommon features about this temple. One of the most noteworthy features of the Masani Amman Temple is that it serves as a welfare government listening to the grievances of the public, rectifying the physical ills of people and as a court of justice easing the suffering of men and women.
It is firmly believed that the Goddess responds to their prayers within a period of 19 days. There is a stone image in the temple representing the Goddess of Justice with the body of a serpent. This is popularly known as ‘Neethi Kal’ (stone of justice). People harassed by enemies, merchants meeting with loss in business or men and women who have lost their belongings, take bath, wear holy ashes of the shrine and then grind red chillies in the stone grinder of the temple and smear the paste on the ‘Neethi kal’ (stone of justice).
History of the Masaniamman Temple
There is a historical background for the configuration of this powerful temple. Anaimalai, a place near Pollachi, was ruled earlier by the king called Nanan. He treated the people very badly. During his reign he had a very big mango tree in his farm on the banks of the Aaliyar river, which was very special to him. He was so particular that nobody was permitted to use neither the mangoes nor the leaves from this tree. Once,a group of girls went to the river to take bath and they noticed a mango floating on the river which belongs to Nanan’s tree. One of the girls picked up and ate the fruit.
The helpless woman was arrested and produced before the chieftain with her clothes dripping with water. She pleaded not guilty and prayed to the Lord to be set free. She explained that she never committed any offence; if at all it was considered an act of stealth, it was more by chance than by choice. But the ruler did not relent and instead of excusing her the king sentenced her to death.
After she was executed, some villagers in that area formed a female statue in lying posture using sand of the graveyard, with the remembrance of the innocent girl and worshipped this as ‘Masani’. This is the origin of the temple. Later Kozhinkhosargal defeated king Nanan and destroyed the mango tree.
In front of the sanctum sanctorum is a niche wherein is enshrined Mahamuniappan.
The temple claims both legendary and historical origin. Legend relates that during his wanderings in search of Sita, before setting out to Sri Lanka, Rama stayed in Anaimalai in a graveyard, when he modeled an image of the Goddess in clay and worshipped it. Pleased with his devotion, Masaniamman bestowed upon him Her grace for his triumph over Ravana.
Festivals at the Masaniamman Temple
Devotees flock to the temple in large numbers on Tuesdays and Fridays as well as on Krithigai and newmoon day. Kundam festival is associated with the shrine. Every year on newmoon day of the Tamil month, ‘Thai’, the temple flag is hoisted. On the 14th day at 3 a.m., special worship is performed for the deity. On the 16th day there is the Chithirai Ther (chariot) festival. At 10 pm the holy fire of the kundam is lit. On the 17th day at 9 am devotees, in great excitement and frenzy, jump into a fire pit sprawling to a staggering length of 50 feet for fire-walking.
On the 18th day, the flag is lowered and ‘Mahamuni Pooja’ is performed. On the 19th day, holy anointment of the deity takes place (maha abhishekam).