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Aiyanar

Once again, we are in Tamil Nadu. Here the god Aiyanar holds an important position in the local villages.
Aiyanar worship represents a non-learned, non-Brahmanical form of worship, which is different from the Brahmanical worship in the larger temples. 
Often Aiynar is pictured riding on a white horse, fighting against demons and evil gods that are threatening the village.

Priests
The Aiyanar temple priests are often from the Velar caste; the potters of Tamil Nadu. They inherit their role as priest from male family members, and it is not unusual that as many as eight family members hold the same position.

Figurs
An Aiyanar temple reflects the social hierarchy which exists in the villages of Tamil Nadu. The gods are ranked according to the castes in the village, and as  in social life, the highest ranking gods are vegetarian, whereas the lower ranking ones are non-vegetarian. A temple is often not a building, but one or more figurs.

Festivals
There are many kinds of festivities in connection with village temple festivals. At the temple for Conai, one of the lesser deities associated with Aiyanar, a bull is brought in front of the temple. It is decorated with flowers and painted. 
A rope made of wet hay is now tied to the bull, and some of the men challenge the bull to chase them. 

Texts:Aiyanar and Aiyappan in Tamil Nadu
In recent years, the Aiyappan Cult has attained an enormous popularity. It has spread from Kerala and into Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and is now moving even further north. Obviously, this fairly conventional bhakti cult is seen by many as the answer to their religious and social needs.