Ettukai Amman Temple (Kolli Paavai), Kolli Hills
Ettukai Amman Temple is an ancient temple located in the Kolli hills in Namakkal District of Tamil Nadu. This ancient and powerful deity is known as Kolli Paavai of Ettukkai Amman. The small temple attracts numerous pilgrims on Amavasai or no moon days.
According to the legend, the sages choose this peaceful place for their meditation and penance. However they were disturbed and disrupted by the demons. So they prayed to Kolli Paavai who chased the demons with her enchanting smile and killed them.
Kolli Malai is a small mountain range near Namakkal of Tamil Nadu .Literally it means “Mountain of death”. There is a famous Shiva temple on the top of Kollimalai called “Arapaleeswarar Temple”. There is lot of references to this mountain in ancient Tamil Literature. There is a belief that, this place was connected to the Great philanthropist Val Vil Ori in the ancient times.
It is believed that in Kolli Malai large number of herbs and medicines, grow and lot more are buried in caves and pits in the mountains. It is believed that many saints and Siddhas are doing penance on the top of the mountain. The famous Saint Gorakh Nath is supposed to have his cave on this mountain. These saints requested the Asura architect Maya to make an idol which would attract all bad people and kill them and they called the idol, “The maid of death.”
As soon as that idol gets the scent of bad people or asuras, it seems she attracts them by her smile and kills them. But the priest of the temple says that Kolli Paavai is the Goddess providing protection to all the villagers in that area. He anoints the idol with sandal paste and then runs and jumps all round her shouting and also dances, then he shows the camphor Light to the Kolli Paavai, wears in a trance a wooden sandal with three inch long nails and sharp iron pieces and answers all the questions posed by the devotees of the Goddess. After getting rid of the trance, he gives Prasada of sacred ash to all her devotees.
People believed that the Siddhas, who come to collect rare medicinal herbs from the mountain, first take permission from Kolli Paavai, and then they will go and collect the herbs, bring them back and take permission of Kolli Paavai to use them. They believed that the full effect of the herbs collected could be experienced only if they follow this method.
On the way to this temple is a village called Poonthottam (Flower garden). Four km from this village is the mysterious Kollipavai temple. Literally the name means, “Maiden of death”. She is not in a temple but in a hut with palm leaf roof. This hut does not have any doors also She has a very enigmatic smile that attracts all. This idol also has eight hands and is also called Ettu Kai Amman (Goddess with eight hands). It seems there are references to this Goddess in Silappadikaram, one of the ancient Tamil epic. The idol is always covered with sandal paste. The anointing of the idol by sandal paste is done by her priest behind a curtain.