Family deities occupy a pride of place in the divine realm of our people. They hold an essential position in the Indian religious domain too. Family deity worship has a long tradition in our country and is undertaken by the people with faith and enthusiasm. There are many who regard these deities even as principal Gods, whose blessings, they believe, are essential for getting the grace of other divinities. They are considered as the private Gods of a clan or a lineage or a cluster of families and are believed to have a personal bonding with the members of those units. These deities are the first that people turn to, in case of any difficulties and emergencies, and also the ones, whom they seek out, for the fulfillment of wishes.
A family deity is hailed reverentially in the Tamil speaking lands as ‘Kula Deivam.’ These deities are essentially regarded as guardian angels, particularly in the rural belts. Mariamman, Kali Amman, Ayyanar, Karuppanna Swamy, Muneeswaran and Sudalai Madan are some of the popular family deities worshipped in the state of Tamil Nadu. Being protectors and saviors, these Gods are seen normally in aggressive postures, sporting a variety of weapons and having their mounts around.
Worship of these family deities assumes special importance on auspicious occasions like Panguni Uthiram.
Panguni Uthiram is a special occasion that holds immense religious significance. This is the day of star Uthiram during the month of Panguni, the 12th, last Tamil month, that corresponds to March-April. The day assumes greater significance as the full Moon also coincides with the occasion.
Panguni Uthiram lays great stress on Grihasthya, the institution of marriage and the life of a married individual. Hence, this occasion has remained as the special day that many of the Gods and incarnations themselves have chosen for their marriage. This is thus the day when many divine marriages like those of Shiva and Parvathi, Rama and Sita, Muruga and Devasena, and Ranganatha and Andaal have all taken place.
Importance of Family Deity Worship on Panguni Uthiram
Many are the mythological stories that speak about the greatness of the family deities. These also sing praise on the heroism of the deities in putting down evil, on their kindness in protecting the devotees from dangers and on their compassion in bestowing them with all blessings. There are also stories that stress about the importance of the family deity worship. It is said that it is only the family deity that a person should primarily dedicate his worship to and that offering prayers to all other God can follow that worship. It is even said all other Gods would be pleased with worship only when the family deity gets propitiated, first.
However, there are families of people who are facing at present, the peculiar predicament of not knowing who exactly their family deity is. Family elders can be the best source for such people to get reliable information about these deities. These people can also get details on aspects like special days to offer prayers, mode of worship to be undertaken, etc. from them.
It is a tradition and also a customary practice among many people to offer special worship to the family deities on the occasion of PanguniUthiram. Many villages will see grand celebrations on this day when various rituals will be conducted for the family deities, austerities will be observed, special offerings will be made, and big festivals will be celebrated in their temples.
Benefits of Such Worships
It is believed that the family deity worship on Panguni Uthiram will help the souls of the departed ancestors to attain peace; the clan to develop and flourish, and help people to live in peace and joy. This can also act as a protective shield and ward off all evils that can befall on them; and can bestow immense blessings such as progeny, good health, education, professional growth, early marriage, marital harmony and friendly relationships. This worship can also lead one in the path of spiritual advancement.