--> Skip to main content

About Goddess Pattini – Kannaki in Sri Lanka

Goddess Pattini (Kannaki) is worshipped by both Tamil Hindus and Sinhala Buddhists. As per the legend, Kannaki is the heroine of famous Tamil poem Silappathikaram - the Epic of the Anklet. The story has it that Kannagi’s husband Kovalan was unjustly put to death by the ruler of Madurai for stealing the anklet of the queen. Kannagi proves the innocence of her husband at the court and in anger sets the entire Madurai city on fire. She then leaves the Madurai city.

Kannagi then reaches Sri Lanka and cools herself down. Here She came to be known as Goddess Pattini.
Indian Express reports 
In May and June every year, Tamil Hindus of the Eastern province in Sri Lanka begin a 15-day marriage ceremony with a tug of war. It is followed by a symbolic marriage of their revered goddess Kannaki as they dress up a tree trunk in a sari, and marry it off, as if it were someone’s daughter.  
Buddhists and the Hindus in Sri Lanka have been oblivious to each other’s rituals. A significant number of Sri Lankans are unaware that she is a shared deity, it’s an indication perhaps of the alienation between the two main ethnic communities in this small island nation. 
During the festival there are almost-possessed devotees, with pierced bodies and mouths, surrendering themselves to goddess Kannaki. Some women wear white saris, and roll around in mud, submitting themselves to Pattini, with the hope that her powers of fertility will rub off on them.