Karuppu Sami

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Karuppana Swamy (Called by many names)
Village Guardian deity of Tamil Nadu
Tamil script Karuppu Samy
Abode Earth
Weapon Aruval and sangili
Consort Karuppayi
Mount Horse

Karuppu Sami (Tamil: கருப்பசாமி) is a regional Tamil god, who is popular among the rural social groups of South India, especially Tamil Nadu and small parts of Kerala. He is one of the 21 associate folk-deities of Ayyanar and is hence one of the so-called Kaval Deivams of the Tamils.


  • Arulmigu Theradi Karuppar - Kandadevi.
  • Arulmigu Sapparathadi Karuppana Swamy - Thallakulam - Madurai
  • Singamuga Karuppar from Keerani - Near Devakottai - Ramanathapuram district.
  • Arul migu Vanni Karuppana swamy
  • Arul migu Manthai Sudalaimada Swamy
  • Arul migu vani karumalayan - Near Paramakudi- Ramanathapuram dist
  • Arul migu Puliyadi Karuppana Samy
  • Arul migu Kaaraiyadi Sinna Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Karuppanaar Samy
  • Arul migu Karuppanar
  • Arul migu vetta karuppar
  • Arul migu Massana samy
  • Arul migu Vellai Kuthirai Karuppasamy -Paramakudi- WHS
  • Arul migu Maarnattu Sinnan Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Santhana Karuppanna samy
  • Arul migu Periya Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Sinna Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Paalpaarai Muthu Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Mayana Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Patta Karuprul migu Vallanattu Karuppasamy .
  • Arul migu Pathinettampadiyan(18-pasamy
  • Arul migu Karadaiyan samy
  • Arul migu Ondi Karuppannasamy
  • Arul migu Kaattu Karuppar
  • Arul migu Karuppu Samy
  • Arul migu Aaladi Karuppanna Samy
  • Arul migu Kulla Karuppanaar
  • Arul migu Sangili Karuppan
  • Arul migu Sonai Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Munnodi Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Man malai Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Perungkaadu Karuppa samy
  • Arul migu Ponnuveriyan Karuppa samy
  • Arul migu Kottai Karupa samy
  • Arul migu Nondi Karupa samy
  • Arul migu Nambaga Karupasamy
  • Arul migu Madai Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Vaya Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Sappaani Karuppar
  • Arul migu Moodupaarai Karuppanna Samy
  • Arul migu Kunankarupar Kallal
  • Arul migu Nondi samy
  • Arul migu Thoppu Karuppasamy
  • Arul migu Killi kundu Karuppasamy
  • Sri Aaladi Karuppanasamy, Malangudi, Ramanathapuram Dist
  • Sri Malayala Karuppayya
  • Arul migu Kallan Kallachi Karuppasamy
  • Thungane Pudhu Karrupu
  • Arulmigu Mudakkatru Karuppana Swamy
  • Arulmigu Varrar Karuppansamy
  • Arulmigu Varrantai Karuppansamy

One can find a group of 5 to 6 variants of Karuppa Sami among the 21 folk deities who perform the protective roles through Shamanism or Oracle system.

Legends of Karuppaswamy[edit]

Following is the story heard by word-of-mouth from the pujaris or Sami aadis in Alagar Kovil, Madurai.

Lord Rama had sent Sita to the forest when she was pregnant and lived in Saint Valmiki's Ashram.

While in the Ashram, She brought a male heir of Rama to the world.

One day when she was going out for some chores of the Ashram, she asked the Saint to take care of her child in the cradle. The Saint was watching the child and meanwhile went into a deep meditation. When Sita returned, she found that the Saint was in meditation and didn't want to disturb him to tell him that she was taking her child.

When the Saint was out of the meditation, he found the child missing. So he put some holy grass (Dherbai) in the cradle and with his mantra he made that as a child.

Later when he found that Sita was having her real child, he was so confused and asked Sita to treat the new baby also as her own child.

When Sita was returning to Rama, he was expecting only one male heir. But to his astonishment, he found two boys (Lavan and Kushan) approaching him. Again to test the purity of the boys, he set a fire and asked the boys to cross the fire to reach him. He told that whoever was his real heir would cross the fire unscathed. Unknowingly the boy brought up by the Saint, stuck in the middle of the fire and burnt his body becoming very dark.

Finally, Rama got to know what had happened in the forest to have two boys instead of one. Then he blessed the burnt boy to become his escort god (kaval deivam) and called him “Karuppannan” which became Karuppa Sami.

That was the reason why Karuppa Sami put the sacred tri-strips (Thiru Namam) on his forehead. While calling the deity, the pujaris sing that “Dherbaiyil pirandhavane (born from the holy grass)”.

Yet another legend states that he sprung from Lord Vishnu's hands and hence is also known as Kaiyannar (One Created from the hand).

A typical shrine[edit]

Temple of Raja Karuppnnasami at Azhagar Koil near Madurai India.
Statue of Sangili Karuppan at the Sri Maha Muniswarar Temple, Ampang, Malaysia.

The Karuppanar Kovil (or a shrine) is always found in the outskirts of the Village. The maintenance of the temple is taken care of by the whole of the village.

His temple is usually in the open space and will not have traditional Gopurams like any other temples. You can see big statues of Gods with weapons like bow and arrow, swords, knives and other protective weapons alongside Him. There will also be statues of other Goddesses (7 Kannimaar or the 7 Virgins) called as saptha Kannimar in His temples. Animals, often signifying His pets - a dog (Vettai Naai or a hunting dog), a lion and His ride - the white Horse.

Hanuman statues are always carved or placed in karupusamy temple. It is said to be that hanuman (anjanayar) are escort or safety patrol god for karupusamy. Adding on to it there are 21 main kaval deivams are present. The sequence starts with Periya karuppana samy, chinneh karupuana samy and follows up with his brothers. 9th will be pottu karupana samy and 19 will be madurai veeran. 18th is pathunatham padi karupar. about pathanatham padi karupar always could be noticed about him in ayaipan songs. and last in the row will be Idamban. all these karupars present in each entrance of main deity temple. for instance if going to pray to (aman temple) chinne karupanasamy will present in that temple as protective god. Sangili karupanasamy present in thirupathy protecting Govinda Rajan(Perumal).In simple terms we have to pass them first before reaching the main deity.

Statues of Karuppu Sami are often black in colour and adorned with chains. He will usually be holding a sword, sometimes with bells attached. Often, as part of his worship, a cigar will be lit and placed in the Deity's mouth. He is also offered alcohol.

Karuppu Sami is often worshipped alongside Madurai Veeran and Muneeswarar.

The most famous temple for Karuppasamy is located at Azhaghar Koil, near Madurai. This is considered as the most important of the Karappannaswamy temples. Here he is worshipped as Pathinettampadi Raja Karuppannaswamy. There is no idol here. Only an Aruval at the top of eighteen steps. Hence the name Pathinettampadi.

A typical deity[edit]

The main form of worship of Karuppanar in the shrine is a formless stone which has been decorated with a Turban and a Dhoti with flowers and garlands. He wields an "Aruval" which is a long form of machete resembling a scimitar, a sword, sometimes a lance, a trident and a smaller knife.

The Aruval is a very significant weapon in Tamil Nadu and is considered, in itself, as a symbol of Karuppanar himself. Some Aruvals may reach the height of even 5 feet, especially the ones in Thiruppaachhi.

The Most Important musical Instrument Which like by God karuppanan are Tappu, Tharai, kombu Tharai, Otha thamukku, Pambai, Udukkai and Urumee.

Karuppasamy is an alcoholic, non-vegetarian but strict soldier with a wind current flow with bells and chains tied to his body.


Karuppannan in a sacred groove at Singalandhapuram, Namakkal District of Tamil Nadu
Karuppannan's vehicle horse at Singalandhapuram, Namakkal District of Tamil Nadu
Statues of Karuppanan

Karuppanar worship is a very ancient ancestral clan-based worship system. Most officiating priests are non-Brahmins and derive from local lineages that had initiated the cult generations ago.

The worship pattern is non-Vedic or non-Agamic through Folk tales, Folk songs and Folk arts (Villu pattu, Karakattam, Koothhu, etc.). The local priest might offer flowers or Veeputhi (holy ash) or Holy flowers to the worshippers and may play the role of an oracle for Shamanism. Various persons within the clan system are identified to play to the role of oracle on annual turn basis. They undertake vradham and maintain chastity and purity during the period of vradham. During the festivals, oracles get into trance state (Saami aadudhal) and deliver counselling messages to the group assembled there without bias. The normal problems addressed are family problems, financial troubles and local community and social issues for resolving within the community group with the agreement of local ancestral god through oracle.

Whenever the wishes of the people are granted, they give their offerings to Him based on what they vowed to offer.

Karuppannaswamy and Siddhas[edit]

Karuppannaswamy is a favourite Deity of the Nath/Siddhas. His worship has been integrated into the mode of worship of the Siddhas. Chenthamangalam near Salem has a temple dedicated to Pathinettampadi Raja Karuppannaswamy. This has been erected by Swami Santhananda Saraswati Avadhuta Swamigal.

Annual Festivals[edit]

The village committee would decide on when the Annual mass convention be conducted. The time of the year when this would fall varies with villages and their local customs - each of which will be associated a folk-lore. Generally, the mass convention assembly of a large number of related family members is organized during the spring season for a period of 2 to 3 days.

The commencement of the festival will be with that of a hoisting of the flag and tying the "Kaappu." After this time, villagers cannot go out of the village but can come in from a different village.

During this annual gathering, a large number of goats and chicken are sacrificed for Lord Karuppanar. He is also offered Beedis (country - made cigarettes) or cigars and Naravam (toddy = locally instilled alcohol) or some form of modern alcohol.

One interesting fact of special mention is the belief of the village people that the Karuppu Sami is being disguised in the form of the priest called as Marulali who is asked to predict the future. This belief system about Karuppu samy is called the Arul vaaku or Saamiyaaduthal in several parts of Tamil Nadu. The social issues will be discussed through these temple fore-tellers (also called as Kodangi) whom the people usually consider as the voice of the Karuppa sami deity. When Lord Karuppa Sami addresses the people in different villages through the Kodangi, different issues and dimensions on the social, cultural and psychological aspects of the village and the society are reviewed for possible solutions.

Goat Sacrifice rituals[edit]

A unique sacrifice ritual to Karuppu Sami called "kutti kudithal" is famous in Tamil Nadu among the non brahminical sections. In kutti kudithal festival, the goat or lamb to be sacrificed to Karuppu Sami will be their sucked blood in the neck, by the trance dancer, while they are still alive in the sacrificial altar. Even to this day, this ritual occurs in some of the Karuppu Swamy temples, for instance, in Sappani Karuppar temple,Vanapatrai street Tiruchirappalli. The Sandhana Karuppar was the son of Ugra Kali Amman of Tennur, Trichy,The Ondi Karuppar of Kuzhumai Amman Temple, Puthur, Trichy and Sengolathan Karuppar of Kulanthalayee Amman Temple,Woriur,Trichy is very famous for kutti kudithal that occurs every year in the Tamil month of Panguni and Masi, hundreds of goats(lambs) are blood sucked alive by the trance dancer called Marulali who is the representative of Lord Karuppa Sami. In the Tamil calendar, the month aadi is very auspicious for Karuppa Sami. The Kutti Kudhithal Carnival have been celebrated at Puthur and Woriur, Trichy on 10.03.2011 and in Thennur, Trichy, on 08.04.2010. The Next Carnival will be on next year march & April (1st Tuesday to Saturday).

Thungani Pudhu Karrupu[edit]

Thungani Pudhu Karrupu Swamy is located near Ranjankudi Fort which is 17 km north of Perambalur and 8 km south of Tholudur. Stories about the festivals and functions happening over there goes on over the last two generations through word of mouth. It was told that during one of these main functions when the Priest(Pujari)threw the offerings high in the air they never returned to the ground. The deity Puthu Karrupu is also called the Vetty Karuppu (Head Harvester). More interesting stories available at the temple.

See also[edit]