Mathura Kaliyamman Temple, Siruvachur – Legends
Mathura Kaliyamman saved Chelli Amman by killing an Evil Sorcerer:
According to tradition, Kannagi came across a Devi temple in Siruvachur and decided to rest there for the night. The temple’s presiding deity was Chelliamman, fondly referred to as Chelli. Kannagi went into the deserted temple and prepared to rest for the night. It was then that something strange happened. Chelli came out of the sanctum and said “Lady, I request you not to stay here.” she said to Kannagi. Kannagi was astounded, “Devi, why are you asking me to go away. Aren’t you supposed to protect us?” “Child, you don’t know the situation. I am a powerful goddess, yes. But now I am bound to serve the whims and wishes of a cruel magician. He won my favor with his intense devotion towards me.
And when I granted him any boon that he could wish for, he wanted me to be his servant, obeying his tiniest commands. By the power of my own boon, I am bound to him. He uses me to do all his wicked deeds. If he finds out that you have been here, he will surely kill you. That’s why I beseech you to go away as soon as possible.” explained Chelli. Kannagi was moved by Chelli’s problems and promised that she would help her to get out of the same. Kannagi and Chelli planned to kill the wicked magician. As night fell, Kannagi withdrew into the sanctum along with Chelli. She invoked her family deity, Kali, to help her in vanquishing the magician.
Kali granted Kannagi all her powers to kill the evil sorcerer. Soon the magician came by and ordered Chelli to come out. But to his great surprise, Kannagi sprang out and with one sweep of the sword she cut his head off. Before dying, the sorcerer made a final request that he should have his Samadhi in the very same temple and the entire devotee should stamp on him for all the evil that he had done. Kannagi granted him his final wish. Chelli too was freed from the bond and was happy beyond all measures.
Chelli looked at Kannagi, her eyes full of gratitude,” Kannagi, I am so grateful to you for what you have done. I want you to stay over here forever more and protect the people of this village of Siruvachur. This place is mine no more. In this village, under your powerful rule, no deeds of evil can take place any more. People with evil intentions cannot even enter the village. Billi-soonyam, black magic and Devilish tantras will not work out here. Protect all of the people who come in search of refuge from the evil forces. I will now retreat into the forests of Periyasami hills. You are always welcome to visit me over there.”
Kannagi was overwhelmed with happiness and promised Chelli that she would do her best to rid the world of evil. “I will bless your devotees and mine with protection from all kinds of evil. But I will be down here only twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. The other five days, I will be with you, up on the summits of Periyasami hills. I also request that you accept all the offerings and Poojas at this temple before I accept them”, she said. Chelli agreed to Kannagi’s conditions and left to her new abode at the Periyasami Hills and so, Kannagi took over the seat of Chelli at the temple. She came to be known as Madhurakali Amman, since she had come from Madurai and had gotten rid of the evil sorcerer with the grace of Kali.
However Chelliamman demanded that the first respect (Mudal Mariyadai) should be offered to her. Accordingly during the puja times, the Arati is shown to the mount where Chelliamman stays. Then pujas continue in the main temple here. As Madurakalaiamman came to Siruvachur on a Friday, She is granting darshan to the devotees on Mondays. Following this story, the temple is open only on Mondays and Fridays. It is said that the deity stays with Chelliamman on other days. Several other explanations are also given for her name. Soon, word of her power spread far and wide and people started pouring in. The town of Siruvachur became famous for the grace and protection of the presiding deity and has remained so ever since.
Saint Adi Shankara consecrated Madhura Kaliyamman Idol:
A popular legend regarding her descent from the hills to the foothills revolves around the great Saint Adi Shankara. One day Adi Shankara passing through the foothills of Madhira malai rests under a tree due to thirst. With his concentration on the Goddess, she appears before him as a spring to quench his thirst. She shows her true form to Adi Sankara, blesses him and becomes an idol. Adi Sankara then consecrated this idol which is now worshipped as Madhurakali Amman.
Sadasiva Brahmendra installed Sri Chakra here:
Another popular legend says that Shri Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra installed the Sri Chakram in this temple.
Kannagi calmed herself here after burning Madurai:
As per one legend, Kannagi of Silapathikaram calmed herself in this site after burning Madurai city.
This small temple is built at the foothills of Madhira Malai, hence the name Madhurakali Amman.
Chola King blessed with Child by praying here:
The temple is believed to have been built during early Chola period by Dharma Varman. The issueless king prayed to Goddess Kaliamman and a son was born to him. In gratitude to the goddess he had the temple at the foot hills built.
Kali killing demon Charukan here:
According to legends Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva came down to earth in the form of Kali to destroy the asura Charukan, who had been terrorizing the innocent and helpless living in these hills. After Kali destroyed him, Lord Shiva appeared and cooled her anger. He blessed Kali and asked her to stay as the guardian and benefactor of the people in the hills.
Another legend regarding the goddess name is attributed to the story of five rishis. The five Rishis - 'Mudavar, Panthagar, Boumar, Arunar and Sigandeesar' were performing penance in the hills. Each day of the week except on Monday's and Friday's each rishi used to take turns to perform various rituals to Goddess Kali. The goddess appeared before each of them and showered her blessings on them. Overwhelmed by the Goddess's visit, the rishis requested her to make home under the Kumkumam tree, so that they could visit and pay obeisance. The Goddess granted their wish. Each day when one of the rishi's prayed to her, honey dropped from a beehive above the Goddess and fall on their lips. This honey drops was regarded as divine nectar, hence the Goddess was called "Madhura Kaliyamman", Madura meaning divine nectar.
Story behind performing pujas to Madhurakali Amman only on Mondays and Fridays:
Perumaruda malai the hill behind Madhira malai is now known as Periasamy malai. A legend regarding this hill is the story of three Siddhars - 'Notchindar, Neminadar, Sambu' who lived here. One day they came across an abandoned child and brought him up. He grew up as Boodhar and was educated by the siddhars. On completion of their earthy duties, the siddhars were transformed into honey bees, a curse of their previous birth when as shepherds they stole honey from a saint. The saint cursed them to become honey bees in their next birth to atone their sins.
The siddhars as honey bees made their home in the beehive of the tree at Madhira Malai. These honey bees made honey which fed the rishis when they came to pray Goddess Kali. This feeding of devotees through hard work absolved them of past sins. Boodhar who had come to pay respects to his teachers saw the rishis praying to the Goddess. He realized his true self and fell at the feet of Goddess Kali. She recognized him as the incarnation of Lord Narada and blessed him. Boodhar requested his teachers to pray to Kali to get back their human forms.
The Goddess, pleased with their devotion blessed them and transformed them to their human form. Boodhar requested the Goddess that he should always think of her and pray to her. Kali granted his wish by giving him permission to perform rituals on Mondays and Fridays as the other days of the week rituals were performed by the rishis. Hence the practice of performing pujas to Madhurakali Amman only on Monday's and Fridays came into practice and is followed even today.