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Valli (Tamil வள்ளி) is a Goddess and the divine consort of the prominent Hindu God Murugan, according to Hindu mythology. She represents the "Ichha Shakti" (power of aspirations), and Goddess Deivayanai depicts "Kriya Shakthi" (power of actions), and the Vel embodies "Gnana Shakthi" (power of knowledge).
Dictionary defintiion is: வள்ளி (vaḷḷi), s. a plant, convolvulus batatas; 2. a winding plant, dioscorea sativa, படர்கொடி; 3. a ratan-shield, பிரப்பங் கேடகம்; 4. a jewel, ஆபரணம்; 5. a bracelet, கைவளை; 6. a kind of play, a dance, ஓர் கூத்து; 7. a consort of Subramanya.
Goddess Valli is also known as Pongi, at Vallimalai, and the pond from which she drew water to quench the thirst of Her Lord, is still existent here. This pond though in an open ground, does not receive the rays of the sun. Pongi in this context, refers to the Her bhava in which is overflows with youth, beauty and devotion.
Descendants of the Vedda tribe are still inhabitant around the Kathirgamam region and there are temples dedicated to the God of Mountains, Lord Muruga in this region of Sri Lanka.
The Birth of the Goddess
In ancient times, the mountainous regions in South India were ruled over by various tribes. One of the prominent tribal people were the Kuravar, who were prevalent in the Southern part of India, including a part of Sri Lanka or Ceylon, in areas known as 'Thiruthani'. The chief of this Mountain tribe, Nambi Rajan and his wife prayed to the Mountain God for a girl-child. Their prayers were answered and Nambi Rajan's wife gave birth to a new-born girl child. They named the child as Valli and she grew up as the princess of the mountain tribe. Some myths state that Valli was born from a doe when a sage laid eyes on it during a momentary lapse in his meditation.
In her previous birth, Valli and her sibling Deivayani (another consort of Lord Murugan) were the daughters of Lord Vishnu, and both of them undertook severe penance to become the consorts of Lord Muruga, who appeared before them and gave the boon of marriage in their next birth. And in the present birth, the Goddess was destined to marry the God of Mountains, Lord Murugan and would never consider anyone else. At a tender age, Sage Narada informed Her father that she was an intimate Shakti of Lord Subramanya incarnated for the fulfillment of the Lord's lila.
Sri Lankan mythology moves the events into the island and claims that they occurred among the Veddah people near Kataragama. However, South Indian puranas state that Kataragama or Kathirgamam was the place where Lord Murugan stationed his army during his war with Surapadman.
The Divine Revelation
Goddess Valli had her heart and soul dedicated to Lord Subramanya and would always pray with fervent devotion and love, to be with Him. The Lord was moved by the highest form of love expressed by the mountain princess, and so He planned to appease Her in person by creating the perfect situation after an enactment of His lila.
The mountain chief planned to develop a field for growing millets, and assigned Valli to take in-charge of protecting the field from birds and animals who might devour the crops. Lord Murugan saw this as an opportunity to meet the Goddess, and therefore He assumed the form of a handsome tribal hunter and appeared before her, as if he lost his way on chasing a deer during hunting. Valli did not recognize the stranger and promptly asked him to leave the place. The Hunter was about to leave and at that moment the chief was returning to the place bringing honey and fruits for Valli, the God in order to avoid being caught, turned himself into a tree. After the chief and his followers left the place, the God changed back into the hunter form and proposed his love to Valli.
The princess who had only the Mountain God in her heart, was infuriated at the proposal and lashed out at the hunter. (This form of Lord Muruga called the 'Veduvan Kolam' can be seen at the Lord Palaniapaar temple at Belukurichi). The chief and his followers were again returning to the place, so the hunter changed himself into an old man, without being noticed by Valli. When the chief on seeing the old man, requested him to stay with Valli till they return from the hunting.
The old man was hungry and asked Valli for food, and she gave Him a mixture of the millet flour and honey, but it made him thirsty and asked for water. She provided water from a nearby stream and the Lord jokingly remarked that she has satisfied his thirst and she can quench his thirst for a companion. The Goddess was angered again and started to leave the place, the Lord requsted assistance from His brother, Lord Ganesha to appear as a wild elephant at that time. On seeing the wild elephant, Valli was scared and ran back to the old man, pleading Him to save Her from the elephant. Lord Muruga proposes to save Her only if She agrees to marry Him. In the heat of the moment, she agrees and the Lord reveals His true form. It was then Valli realises that it was her beloved Lord, who was with her all the time.
After the millet harvest was over, the chief with his daughter and entourage returned to their native land. The Lord, again returned for His devotee and The Divine Couple enjoyed their time away from Valli's family. Nambi Raja on being alerted about Valli's absence, flew into rage and went in search of Her. When they finally found The Lord along with Valli, the chief and followers shot arrows at Him, but they all failed to even touch the Lord and instead, the chief and his sons fell lifeless. Goddess Valli was disheartened to see the lifeless bodies of her kith and kin, and requested the Lord to bring them back to life. Lord Murugan instructed Her to revive them Herself and by Her mere touch everyone was brought back to life. The chief Nambi Raja and his tribesmen realised that it was their God of Mountains, in the form of the old man and prayed to Him. Lord Muruga took his true form and blessed the tribesmen, and the chief conducted the marriage of his daughter and the Lord.
This place came to be known as Vallimalai, the divine place were Lord Muruga and Goddess Valli spent their times of courtship and eventually got married. It is located in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu state, in South India.
After their wedding, Lord Murugan and Goddess Valli, moved to Thiruthani, which is one of the Arupadai Veedu (the six battle camps) of the Lord.
- Fabricius, Johann Philipp. J. P. Fabricius's Tamil and English dictionary. 4th ed., rev.and enl. Tranquebar: Evangelical Lutheran Mission Pub. House, p,855, online (1972) edition
- Ancient myths of the aborigines of Kerala
- Tiru Murugan (Madras: International Institute of Tamil Studies) (1981). "Murugan and Valli romance". Kamil V. Zvelebil. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- Pongi.org web site of Vallimalai Tiruppukazh Ashram, home of Pongi a.k.a. Valli Amma