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Why Murugan Worship Is Popular In South India But Not In North East And Western Parts Of India?

Murugan worship, known for its prominence in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, has deep cultural and historical roots that contribute to its regional popularity. Here are several reasons why Murugan worship is more popular in South India compared to the North, East, and Western parts of India:

Historical and Cultural Factors

It is believed that once Murugan (also known as Kartik) had a disappointment with Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Ganesha. In anger he is believed to have abandoned Mount Kailash and make South India his home. His warrior qualities and courage attracted people of the region and soon he became the patron deity of many kingdoms and local chieftains.

Dravidian Influence:

The worship of Murugan (also known as Kartikeya, Skanda, or Subramanya) has ancient Dravidian roots, dating back to the Sangam period (approximately 300 BCE to 300 CE). Murugan is often considered a Tamil god and has been extensively celebrated in Tamil literature and culture.

Regional Deity Status:

Murugan is regarded as the Tamil god, and his worship is deeply integrated into Tamil culture and traditions. He is seen as a patron deity of the Tamil people, often associated with Tamil identity and pride.

Major Temples:

Significant temples dedicated to Murugan, such as the Arupadaiveedu (six abodes of Murugan) – Palani, Thiruchendur, Swamimalai, Thiruthani, Pazhamudircholai, and Thirupparamkunram – are located in Tamil Nadu. These temples are major pilgrimage sites attracting millions of devotees annually.

Religious and Mythological Reasons

Mythological Significance:

Murugan's myths and legends are closely tied to the geography and history of South India. The stories of his birth, his battles with demons like Surapadman, and his association with the mountainous regions of South India resonate strongly with the local population.

Association with Local Festivals:

Festivals such as Thaipusam, Panguni Uthiram, and Skanda Shasti are major events in South India, drawing vast numbers of devotees. These festivals are less prominent or celebrated differently in other parts of India.

Sociopolitical Factors

Patronage by South Indian Kingdoms:

South Indian dynasties such as the Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas, and later the Vijayanagara Empire, were patrons of Murugan worship. Their support led to the construction of grand temples and the promotion of Murugan worship through literature, arts, and state-sponsored rituals.

Cultural Integration:

Over centuries, the worship of Murugan has been woven into the fabric of South Indian society, influencing language, arts, music, and dance. This cultural integration has not been as prominent in the North, East, or Western parts of India.

Comparison with Other Regions

Different Pantheons:

In North India, deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, and Durga are more widely worshipped, reflecting the historical and cultural evolution of the region. Similarly, in Western India, Ganesha, Shirdi Sai Baba, and other local deities hold more prominence.

Regional Mythology:

Eastern India, particularly Bengal and Odisha, have a strong tradition of goddess worship, with deities like Durga and Kali being central to their religious practices. This regional preference for certain deities over others often results from historical, mythological, and sociocultural factors.

But throughout India, Kartik or Kartikeya is worshipped in one form of other. He is an integral part of Durga Puja worship. During Navratri, Skanda Mata, mother of Kartik or Murugan, is worshipped.

Murugan worship's popularity in South India is the result of a combination of historical, cultural, mythological, and sociopolitical factors. The deep-rooted tradition and continuous patronage over millennia have cemented Murugan's status as a major deity in the region, while different historical developments and cultural preferences have led to the prominence of other deities in the North, East, and Western parts of India.