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A Temple with a Dargah Within - Sri Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

By Priyabaskar

A Temple with a Dargah within - Sri Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

Chinna Thari Pettah, known commonly as Chintadripettah was a planned township, created by  President George Morton Pitt, out of Sunku Venkatachalam (Sunku Rama)'s garden in 1734. Weavers, spinners, painters, washers and dyers along with priests, attenders, cleaners and scavengers were moved from Madurai and Udayarpalayam to produce indigo, long cloth and gingham for the British market. 
Sunku Rama had been the Chief Merchant of the East India Company, growing in favour with the British officials, so much so that he even had a house allotted within Fort St George, which he used as a cloth godown. He was in good rapport with Governor Collett, who established the first weavers' colony in Madras with Telugu weavers at Kaladipet (Collettpet). Because of this relationship, Collett allotted to Sunku Rama about 87 acres of land in the basin formed by the last loop of the Cooum river before it entered the sea. 
The garden was enriched by the clean waters of the Cooum, and had several fifteen years old trees which President Pitt felt would be ideal for producing good quality cloth. Although Sunku Rama had received the garden as a grant from Governor Collett, the latter had not got it vetted by the Council and since Sunku Rama had not paid anything for it, President Pitt called the title bad, and took over the garden despite severe protests from Sunku Rama.
Some historical accounts suggest the existence of the Adikesava shrine and Angalamma, the village deity within the Sunku Rama gardens, at the time of acquisition by the British, probably existing since the Vijayanagara period. Dubash Vennala Audiyappa Narayana Chetty who had been made responsible along with Chinnathambi Mudaliar to recruit the weavers and get them settled, expanded this shrine into a temple, and built the Adipureeswara Temple next to it. Both temples share a tank. 

A Temple with a Dargah within - Sri Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

Beautiful Mural in the Adikesava Perumal Temple. Check out the Namam!

The Angala Parameswari Temple is found in Venkata Gramani Street. The priest says that his family have been priests to the Goddess for the last six generations. The goddess Angala Parameswari, is seen seated on a lion. With her upper hands holding paasam and ankusam (lasso and spear), and the lower hands show Abhaya and Varada hasthas. She sits with one leg folded and the other leg hanging down from the pedastal placed upon the lion.

A Temple with a Dargah within - Sri Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

Photograph of the main deity. Unfortunately I was not allowed to photograph the sanctum

The most interesting feature in this temple is the Dargah of a Muslim saint who lived here. There seems to be no documented evidence on who he was and where he came from.The priest narrated what had been told to him over the years.  In the middle of the 18th century, the saint came to  Angalamman temple and chose to stay there. He began to cure people of their diseases. Both Hindus and Muslims came to him for getting treated and gave him food and fruits in return. When he knew his end was drawing near, he expressed his desire to be buried within the temple complex.
Since then, the Dargah has been worshipped and maintained by the Poojaris of the temple. Every Thursday, Sweet Bhoondhi (broken down laddu) and incense are offered to him by the temple priest. Several Muslims and Hindus come to the temple to worship on Thursdays.The anniversary of the saint is celebrated in a grand manner during the last Thursday in the Tamil month of Aadi, when his Dargah is covered with flower shawls and several people come to pray and be cured of their ailments.

A Temple with a Dargah within - Sri Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

The Dargah within the Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

Mayana Kollai is the main festival in any Angalamman temple. Conducted on the Shivaratri (New Moon Day in the Tamil month of Maasi), the image of Goddess Angalamman is created on the crematorium floor, with ash from burnt bodies and Putru mannu (soil from an anthill), and stuffed with live chicken, intestines of goats, grains and vegetables. The deity is taken out in a procession from the temple to the crematorium, followed by devotees dressed like Angalamman to show gratitude for prayers being answered. At the end of the procession, the poojari, in a stupor, falls upon the Angalamman image made on the ground, thereby exposing the stuffing. He comes up biting either a live chicken or the intestine of a goat. This signals the beginning of Mayana Kollai. People who have had their prayers answered, start throwing up grains, fruits, biscuits etc towards the other people in the crowd who collect these in towels or upper garments. People gather the Putru Mannu in a cloth and tie it up above their front door or sprinkle it in their fields for a better harvest.

A Temple with a Dargah within - Sri Angala Parameswari Temple, Chintadripet

A priest during Mayana Kollai (Photo Courtesy: The New Indian Express)

In this temple, Mayana Kollai used to be conducted at the Krishnampet Burial Ground. However, due to traffic and other political challenges, they are now performing the Mayanakollai within the temple itself. This year's Mayanakollai will be performed on February 20th, 2020. 
"This temple symbolises the harmony with which people of all religions have been living in Chintadripet", says the priest. Just what is needed in our country today!
How to get here: 

The Angala Parameswari Temple is found on Venkata Gramani Street. off Arunachalam Road, in Chintadripet. 
Temple Timings:

The temple is open from 7 am to 10 pm in the morning and from 5 pm to 8 pm in the evening.

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