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Naga Cult - Snake Worship - in Tamil Nadu, India

Animistic snake worship was known in India long before the advent of the Aryans. As in present time, the early inhabitants had to face continuous encounters with deadly snakes infesting forests and marshy grounds. They were overwhelmed with the incomprehensible terror of sudden death and could think of no better way to relieve themselves from that fear than appeasement and veneration. On the other hand, snakes seeking shelter from the rains in houses and stables indicated the beginning of the monsoons and thus of the fertile season and fertility in general, hence they were worshipped mainly by women. Their habit to live under the earth related them to the underworld ancestors who were accordingly venerated in the form of snakes.
Snake worship in a kind of combined animistic-Hindu form is alive to the present day almost everywhere in India, and is particularly pronounced in South India. Votive steles with snake images are often erected below trees because people believe that the dwellings of the snakes are situated underneath the roots. The Naga (skt. naga – snake) is usually not the snake in general but the cobra, raised to the rank of a divine being.
In Tamil Nadu, a peculiar custom, called naga-pratishta, is known for barren women. A stone image of a snake is first submersed in a spring or pond for a certain time to be impregnated with the mysterious power of the snakes living there. Then the barren woman circumambulates the Ashvatta tree (ficus religiosa) and has the snake stone established under the tree, or it is lined up with others in the precincts of a temple. From: Waltraud Ganguly, “Snake earrings of India”
Women with those snake earrings are displayed in my gallery: Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu http://www.pbase.com/neuenhofer/pambadam_snake_earrings_in_tamil_nadu

Have a full preview of my book about Dravidian deities (120 pages with lots of photos)in German: AYYANAR UND MARIAMMAN, DRAVIDISCHE SCHUTZGÖTTER IN SÜDINDIEN
and in English: Christa Neuenhofer, AYYANAR AND MARIAMMAN, FOLK DEITIES IN SOUTH INDIA (see below).

THE BOOKS ALSO EXIST IN LOW COST VERSIONS AS EBOOKS. ENGLISH VERSION: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/417542-ayyanar-and-mariamman-folk-deities-in-south-india
and GERMAN VERSION: http://store.blurb.de/ebooks/pc3532baded5b3a0fd8c5

AYYANAR UND MARIAMMAN, DRAVIDISCHE SCHUTZGÖTTER IN SÜDINDIEN by Christa Neuenhofer | Make Your Own Book

AYYANAR AND MARIAMMAN, FOLK DEITIES IN SOUTH INDIA by Christa Neuenhofer | Make Your Own Book

THE BOOKS ALSO EXIST IN LOW COST VERSIONS AS EBOOKS. ENGLISH VERSION: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/417542-ayyanar-and-mariamman-folk-deities-in-south-india
and GERMAN VERSION: http://store.blurb.de/ebooks/pc3532baded5b3a0fd8c5
Putru Amman Kovil, devine snakes living in termite hills. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil, devine snakes living in termite hills. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil (temple). http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil (temple). http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman, roadside snake worship. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman, roadside snake worship. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman snake shrine near Mamallapuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman snake shrine near Mamallapuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Putru Amman Kovil. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Flowers for the snakes living in old termite hills (putru). http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Flowers for the snakes living in old termite hills (putru). http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake shrine Om Sati between Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake shrine "Om Sati" between Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake shrine Om Sati between Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake shrine "Om Sati" between Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Golden nagas at the entrance of Nagaraja Temple at Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Golden nagas at the entrance of Nagaraja Temple at Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Huge Vishnu resting on Sesa the world-snake. Sri Vekkaliamman Thirukoil Sindalakkarai near Ettayapuram,Tamil Nadu. http://www.bl
Huge Vishnu resting on Sesa the world-snake. Sri Vekkaliamman Thirukoil Sindalakkarai near Ettayapuram,Tamil Nadu. http://www.bl
Snake shrine on Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple compound. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake shrine on Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple compound. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Thiruvakkarai Vakkrakali Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Namana Samudhram Ayyanaar Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Namana Samudhram Ayyanaar Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
In a Kali temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
In a Kali temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake worship near Kanchipuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake worship near Kanchipuram. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake relief at Tanjore Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Snake relief at Tanjore Temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Muthiah Swami Mariamman Temple near Madurai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Cholavandan Amman temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Cholavandan Amman temple. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Ayyanar-Temple in Mallur near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Ayyanar-Temple in Mallur near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Saptamatrika Goddesses the Seven Divine Mothers protected by snakes. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Saptamatrika Goddesses the Seven Divine Mothers protected by snakes. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Ayyanar temple near Anaikarai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Ayyanar temple near Anaikarai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Ayyanar temple near Anaikarai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Ayyanar temple near Anaikarai. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
In a Kali temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
In a Kali temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Shivalayam temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Shivalayam temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Shivalayam temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
At Shivalayam temple near Salem. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stones. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stones. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stones. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stones. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stones. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stones. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Krishna dancing on a cobra. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Krishna dancing on a cobra. Bull Temple, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stone. Bull Temple, Bangalore. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stone. Bull Temple, Bangalore. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Krishna dancing on a cobra. Museum of the Padmanabapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Krishna dancing on a cobra. Museum of the Padmanabapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Naga stone. Two snakes facing each other over a Shiva-lingam. Museum of the Padmanabapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.
Naga stone. Two snakes facing each other over a Shiva-lingam. Museum of the Padmanabapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.
Naga stone. Two snakes facing each other over a Shiva-lingam. Museum of the Padmanabapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.
Naga stone. Two snakes facing each other over a Shiva-lingam. Museum of the Padmanabapuram Palace, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.
Two snakes facing each other over a Shiva-lingam on a pillar in Ulagamman temple at Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/bo
Two snakes facing each other over a Shiva-lingam on a pillar in Ulagamman temple at Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/bo