||This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. (July 2011)|
In Indic mythology, Manimekalai (Tamil: மணிமேகலை, maṇimēkalai; Khmer: មណីមេខលា, Moni Mekhala; Thai: มณีเมขลา, Mani Mekkhala) is a goddess regarded as a guardian of the seas; namely the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea as part of the mythology of Indochina. She was placed by Catummaharajika to protect virtuous beings from shipwreck. She appears in several Buddhist stories including the Mahajanaka-Jataka in which she rescues Prince Mahajanaka from a shipwreck.
In Pali, maņīmekhalā refers to a girdle or belt of jewels. In Indochina, she is sometimes referred to simply as Mekhala; Neang Mekhala (Khmer: នាងមេខលា) in Cambodia and Mekkhala (Thai: เมขลา) in Thailand. Her name was contributed by Thailand for tropical cyclone names occurring as 'Tropical Storm Mekkhala' in 2002 and 2008.
In Mainland Southeast Asia
Manimekhala is seen in wat paintings across Mainland Southeast Asia depicting scenes from Mahajanaka. In Thailand and Cambodia, she is considered a goddess of lightning and the seas. In the classical dance traditions of Thailand and Cambodia, sacred dramatic dances depict the goddess Manimekhala, Ramasura (Parashurama), and Arjuna; according to legend, the phenomena of thunder and lightning is produced in the clash of Manimekhala's crystal ball and Parashurama's axe. In Cambodia, these dance dramas are used in propitiation ceremonies called buong suong tevoda and were performed to invoke the rains to fall.
In Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, she is considered to be the sea goddess. In the Tamil epic poem, the Manimekalai, she puts the eponymous herioine to sleep and takes her to the island Maṇipallavam (Nainatheevu). In the mythic cycle of the god Devol, when the latter approaches Sri Lanka and his ship founders, it is Manimekhalai, on the instructions of the god Śakra, who conjures up a stone boat to save him.
- G.P. Malalasekera. Dictionary of Pali Proper Names: Pali-English. Asian Educational Services, 2003
- Anne Elizabeth Monius. Imagining a place for Buddhism: literary culture and religious community in Tamil-speaking South India. Oxford University Press US, 2001, pages 111-112
- Cravath, Paul. Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 179-203 (The Ritual Origins of the Classical Dance Drama of Cambodia) University of Hawai'i Press