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A Story of a Goddess and Three Gods

This short film is about a post-harvest festival celebration known as “Panguni Thiruvizah” in a village called Alanganallur near Madurai in Tamilnadu (South India). This festival is celebrated once in every two years during the month of March-April.

Forty-five days before the final 5-day celebrations, the local artisans (members of Velallar community) start to make large terracotta idols of the village deities. The craftsman makes the figures of three Gods and a Goddess.

These idols are consecrated and worshipped during this Panguni festival. The context of this film is about coming together of people from different communities belonging to three main Hindu sects- Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shakti devotees. These village guardian deities are folk interpretation of the principle forms of Gods and Goddesses from the mainstream Hinduism such as Muniandi is believed to be a form of Shiva, Karruppu is believed to be a form of Vishnu, Iyyannar is believed to be a form of Ayyappan and Goddess Muthuala Amman which is believed to be 1008th and the last incarnation of the Shakthi.

The craftsmen also make other objects such as terracotta replicas of human limbs, small dolls of boys and girls and miniaturized cattle forms. These ‘owetifs’ are placed in the Muniandi’s shrine on the second of the festival.

According to local myth, it is believed that Goddess Muthuala Amman visited Alanganallur village in form of a small girl came and sought protection from the three Gods against evil forces that were chasing Her. It is believed She took refuge at Alanganallur for a night. While the three Gods figures are ‘_red mud’ idols, the figure of the Goddess Muthuala Amman is made of ‘Wet Clay’. The Goddess’s figure is destroyed the same night it’s consecrated after a grand procession around the village but the three Gods are kept in their respective shrines at the village limit.

One interesting aspect is that the Goddess is born and destroyed the same day in the belief that the Goddess merges with Mother Nature while the three Gods keep guard of the village limits protecting the people of Alanganallur from the evil spirits.

The film is a detailed documentation about the process of idol making. The making of the idols and celebrations are juxtaposed with local folk music (Kummi) and popular folk songs that celebrate the divine qualities of the individual deities. The context and the experiences about the festival is presented through series of interviews with the residents of Alanganallur.

The film illustrates the celebrations along with culturalprograms like a popular folk drama about the “Legend of Goddess Muthuala Amman”. The festival concludes with rural animal sport with the bull and the rope game (Eruthu Kattu). Alanganallur is well known for its “Jallikattu” (bull fight sport).