Isakki or Isakkai is a non-Vedic goddess of South India. South India is the area encompassing India 's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union She is generically considered one of the Village Goddesses, like Māri, the goddess of epidemics. Sitala, Sītala Devi or Māri (Tamil is the Goddess of Smallpox or the Goddess of Disease in popular or non-Vedic She is commonly referred as Isakki Amman (Tamil for "Mother"). She is related to goddess Nīli and to certain bloodthirsty female tree spirits known as Yakshi, in fact, the name Isakki apparently derives from the Sanskrit Yakshī. Yakshinis ( Sanskrit: याक्षिणि also called yaksinis or yaksis and yakkhini in Pali) are benevolent Mythical The worship of this goddess is common in the Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu. Tirunelveli (திருநெல்வேலி is a city in Tamil Nadu and was formed into a Municipal corporation in 1999 by merging three municipalities viz Salem ( Tamil: சேலம் is a city and a Corporation in Salem district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu ( Tamil:, Country of the Tamils, t̪ɐmɨɻ n̪aːɽɯ is one of the 28 states of India.
Unlike the temples of the Vedic deities, Isakki Amman temples are usually humble shrines. These are lined with a certain cactus-type euphorbiaceous plant known as Paalkallu in Tamil. When broken, such cactuses ooze a milk-like sap, which is considered as a sign of goddess Isakki.
Isakki temples also usually have a banyan or bo tree close to the shrine. A banyan is a fig that starts its life as an Epiphyte when its Seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host Tree (or on structures like The Sacred Fig ( Ficus religiosa) or Bo-Tree (from the Sinhala bo) is a Species of Banyan Fig Small wooden cribs and pieces of women's saris are tied to the branches and aerial roots of the spreading tree. for the town in Nepal see Sari Nepal A sari or saree or shari is a female garment in the Indian subcontinent These are vows made by village women who desire to have offspring.
The worship of Isakki Amman includes popular festivals with cooking by the shrine and the dedication of large terracotta figures of the goddess (3 to 4 ft in height) painted in garish colors. Isakki shrines have many of these broken large figures of the goddess strewn close to them in different states of ruin. These figures are sometimes smeared with a liquid made from mixing lime (calcium hydroxide), water and turmeric and which ritually represents blood. Turmeric ( Curcuma longa) is a Rhizomatous Herbaceous Perennial plant of the Ginger family Zingiberaceae Apparently this liquid is a substitute for certain blood sacrifices that took place in the past.
Isakki is portrayed according to the stories that are told about her by the priests of every shrine. These priests are usually lower-caste pople, like the Nadar and the Pallan. Dalit is a self designation for group of people of South Asian descent who were traditionally regarded as untouchables or low Caste. Pallar are a Caste of upwardly mobile Tamil agriculturalists and agricultural Caste of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and amongst the This goddess is usually portrayed as a young woman wearing a red dress. She is holding a child on one hand and a trident in the other. She is sometimes represented as standing on a man that lies on the ground.
The most acknowledged story of Isakki goes as below:
Ambika, a housewife, was leading a peaceful family life with her husband Somasharman and their two male children. One day the dutyful "dharpan" ritual had to be performed to the ancestors of their family and all the items were duly prepared. However, while Somasharman was away to take bath in the river, Ambika offered food to a starving sage who begged for it. Suddenly Somasharman became enraged since the food prepared as offerings to ancestors had been served to the sage before the necessary rites & pujas. Thus Ambika and her children were chased away from home. Ambika wandered until she found a calm place. Realising his foolishness later, Somasharman went in search of his wife and children. But fearing him, Ambika gave up her life. After her unfortunate death, it is believed that she took the form of "Yakshini" and that she still wanted to take care of her growing children. Later, with the grace of God, she was able to regain her human life for the benefit of her offspring.
It is when Ambika took the Yakshini form and regained human life with the intention to serve the family that she became Iyakki or Isakki.