The Glory of Matale Muthumari Amman

Matale-muthumari-amman-1200-01

It is indeed a blessing to construct a temple for the almighty "Ambigai" in Matale. With the beautiful environment and bountiful culture, the present temple came into existence for Ambigai" where there has been just a hut in the early days at the place called Pannaham to worship her. Exactly the year which this kovil was constructed cannot be mentioned, but the owner of that land named as “suppiah pillai” wrote a conditional deed in 1852 and ne submitted to this kovil. Probably the members of this kovil are seven “NADARS” and  ‘5 NAGARATHAR”. After that TR law has been Implemented and in 1960 that condition was changed.

In the past, the statue of the god Amman was situated in a wide rock. That mean they sculpt the statue in the rock which is situated in the land itself and it cannot be separated. That land was a paddy field. Shri Suppiah Pillai constructed a small temple to replace the hut and also acquired the surrounding land for the temple in 1852. After Shri Suppiah Pillai's death, Shri Murugesu took over the administrations of this temple. Several rich devotees have assisted him in the development of the temple.


During this time the poojas were performed by"Poosaris and this procedure changed and the poojas were performed by Brahmins to carry out vedic poojas in the temple. It is said that during this period a thirteen member temple administrative committee was established. They served for the betterment and development of the temple.The above mentioned 13 member committee consisted from "Nattukotai Chettiars", businessmen and other personalities of repute in the town. Shri Sockaligam Chettiar and Shri Kanagasabai Muthiah were in charge of the temple administration for a short while. After that Shri Murugiah, Shri Kandasamy Kumarasamy, Shri Marimuthu Chettiar, Shri KaruppiahSaravanamuthu, Shri Rajaratnam, Shri Thangavel Chettiar, Shri Somasunderam Pathmanathan, Shri Shanmugam Chandrasekeram and once again Shri Marimuthu Chettiar were the longest serving Presidents. It must be mentioned that every one of them did yeomen service for the improvement and development of the temple.

When Shri Murugiah was the president there was some difference of opinion among the membersin the administration and as a result the matter was referred to the Government Agent in 1955.The Government Agent appointed an interim committee with Shri Kumarasamy as President. With Messrs Kanagasabapathy and Sabaratnam as members.

During their administration the annual "Theru Festival" was held and "Mangu Theertham" took place on the Mahaveli Ganga River which runs through Kaludawela. "Mangu Theertham" takes place once in 12 years and the last time it took place was in February 1956. During this period it was customary that live sacrifices were given at the start of the "Theru Cart". This custom of giving live sacrifices was changed, and instead cutting of ash pumpkin took place, when the"Theru Cart" started its procession. Late Mr. Muthiah Pillai Kumarasamy was responsible for this change. Later on, several changes were introduced.

In 1955, during Mr. Kumarasamy's leadership several developments to the temple took place. The small temple was replaced by a larger temple with statues of deities. The"Moolasthanam" was extended and construction of"Artha Mandapam", "MahaMandapam" and Darshana Mandapam took place. In addition, Statues of"PillayarMuthukumaraswamy" with"Valli Theivanai were erected in 1960. Subsequently, the statues of "Shri Muthu Meenatchi" Shri Somasunderaswarar" "Shri Nadarajar" the threeGoddesses"Durgai", Saraswathy" and Mahalaxumi Shri Renganathar" were constructed and the Mahakumbabishekam took place in 1963. It is learnt that several rich devotees and religious leaders donated these shrines.

Shri Letchumanan Thiagarajah Chettiar, a"Saiva" devotee who always strove for thedevelopment of the temple donated, as well as co-operated with the administration to construct the Pillayar" temple and "Panchamuga Vinayagar" temple. Similarly, Doctor Somasunderam of Matale donated for the construction of "Muthukumaraswamy" with Valli and Theivanai" temple. "Shanmuga Perumal" temple was donated by Shri Arunasalam Subramaniam ofBandarapola, Matale, the "Mahavishnu'' temple was donated by Vishvabrahma Kulathar and the"Sandeswari" temple was donated by Shri NT Arumugam Chettiar. The Mani Gopuram and Bell which reminds the five Pooja times of the day was donated by the family of Shri ThangaveluChester. The recently erected"Mani Gopuram" and"Ghanda Mani" was donated by Shri Marimuthu Chettiar on behalf of the family members of the Shri Thangavelu Chettiar.


The most important event of the temple is the annual "Masi Maga Mahothsavam" which takes place in February March every year.

The"Pancha Ratha Bawani" (procession of the five Therus") takes place along the streets of Matale. With the hoisting of the flag, daily poojas are continued for26 days for the delight of thousands of devotees. Matale Sri Muthumariyamman kovil theru festival is the most celebrated and famous occasion. This theru festival will be celebrated very grandly in the month of February. This is a festival of the god’s procession around the city.

They have been celebrating the theru occasion for nearly 100 years. When we consider about this kovil history 3 types theru was created: they are ( kattu ther, koodai ther, sithira ther). In 1977 a"Chithira Theru" (decorated chariot) was made for Goddess Ambigai. For a period of five years"Theru" went along the streets of Matale during the annual"Theru" festival until 1983 when this"Theru" was destroyed during the ethnic disturbance that took place in the country. Along with this'Theru"four other Therus" were also burnt to ashes by hooligans. The office premises, Kalyana Mandapam, Staff quarters and other buildings were also damaged and caused a severe loss of the temple. The people who were responsible for this destruction could not escape the punishment of the Almighty"Ambigai".

Although the"Chitra Theru" and the four accompanying "Therus" were destroyed, five"Chitira Therus" were constructed subsequently in 1992 by the grace of Goddess"Ambigai" with the efforts of Shri Marimuthu Chettiar and the Board Members of the temple with the support of all Hindus throughout Sri Lanka, it was possible to see all five"Chithira Therus" in procession along the streets of Matale on 5 March 1993.

In the five therus Ganapathi, Murugan, Sivanambaal, Ambal, Sandesvarar gods come around the city. Many devotees from Sri Lanka as well as from abroad participate in this theru festival. The theertham of this kovil is in Mahaveli River.

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