Gingee, Tamil Nadu, India: Thousands of worshippers gathered at Angala Parameswari Temple in the southern Indian state of Tamilnadu on Thursday to celebrate the Mayana Kollai or Graveyard Festival where people eat live chickens. Mayana Kollai takes place annually on the day after festival of Mahashivaratri.
Mayana Kollai – Graveyard Festival- is a pre-vedic ritual that is closely associated with the worship of the goddess Angala Parameswari. Worshipped initially wherever a snake hill was located, the goddess has, over the years, acquired human form. The shrines were usually positioned at the outskirts of villages, close to places of burial.
There are temples all over India devoted to worship of the goddess Angala Parameswari and these all observed Mayana Kollai or Graveyard Festival this Thursday as well.
A fierce version of the mother goddess, this Indian deity, goddess Angala Parameswari, has over the years become a manifestation of Parvati. Shiva, it is said, sent her to destroy a demon who hid in a burial ground. The Goddess, accompanied by her guard Pavadairayan, entered the area and feasted on the corpses till she identified the demon and killed him.
Mayana Kollai symbolises that annual raid and feasting, by the goddess Angala Parameswari, on the dead. In olden days, the faithful worshipers feasted on the raw bones and flesh of human corpses but in modern times that has been replaced by eating live chickens.