- Mariyamman is the smallpox GODDESS of Tamil Nadu. She compares to SHITALA in other regions of India. Every village in Tamil Nadu has a temple to Mariyamman. It was understood that smallpox was both caused and cured by this goddess.There were those who understood the disease to be in some way a blessing of the goddess upon them, with the white pustules seen as auspicious markings. However, the worship of Mariyamman was almost always intended to ward off the dis-ease or to alleviate its effects. Because smallpox has been eliminated, Mariyamman is propitiated in the case of chickenpox and other diseases today.Further reading: Pia Srinivasan Buonomo and S. A. Srinivasan, The Goddess Mariyamman in Music and Sociology of Religion (Reinbek: Dr. Inge Wezler Ver-lag für Orientalische Fachpublikationen, 1999); Paul Younger, Playing Host to Deity: Festival Religion in the South Indian Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.