the ever-youthful. When in later ages asceticism came to be a much respected way of life, and ascetics resorted to hills for peaceful meditation, he also became the ascetic god. Coming down from ages when man had not yet invented clothes, he is in many of his manifestations a naked god. Worship of the gods was in ancient days inseparably associated with ritual dancing, as is still the case with primitive people all over the world; and the ancient worship of Murugan was the dance called Veṛiyāḍal or Vēlanāḍal, performed by his priest, who, like his god, was called, Vēlan, for both of them carried the weapon of the hill region, the Vēl, a spear, which in the stone age had a stone spear head and, on the discovery of iron, had a head made of that metal.
The worship of Murugan included the offering of cooked rice and meat for the removal of ills caused by that god. 'O!' old vēlan, intoxicated with the spirit of Murugan! control the anger and help us. I beg one favour of you. If you offer along with many-coloured boiled rice the meat of a red sheep specially killed for the purpose, after marking her forehead (with its blood), will the god of the hill high as the sky who wears a garland eat the bali (and be pleased)?
In later times when religion in India developed noble concepts, attained giddy heights of supreme devotion and breathed the soul-satisfying atmosphere of philosophical insight, highly advanced associations
முருகயர்ந்து வந்த முதுவாய் வேலன
சினவ லோம்புமதி வினவுத லுடையேன்
பல்வே றுருவிற் சில்ல விழ் மடையொடு
சிறமறி கொன்றிவ ணறு நுத னீவி
வணங்கினை கொடுத்தி யாயி ணங்கிய
விண்டோய் மாமபைச் சிலம்ப
னொண்டா ரகவமு முண்ணுமோ பலியே.
- This is a brief description of Veṛiyāḍal is from Maduruikkāñji. 11. 611-617.
அருங்கடி வேலன் முருகொடு வளைஇ
யரிக்கூ டின்னியங் கறங்கநேர் நிறுத்துக்
கார்மலர்க் குறிஞ்சி குடிக் கடம்பின
சீர்மிகு நெடுவேட் பேணித் தழூஉப்பிளை யூஉ
மன்றுதொறு நின்ற குரவை சேரிதொறு
முரையும் பாட்டு மாட்டும் விரைஇ
வேறுவேறு கம்பலை வெறிகொள்பு மயங்கி.
The terrible Vēlan proclaimed the might of Murugan and danced around the people; the sweet-sounding musical instruments sounded in unison; they wore the Kāñji (காஞ்சி) flower—Lawsonia spinosa—which blossoms in the rainy season, and fixing in their hearts the image of the Vēḷ (வேள்) the lord, who shines with the beautiful Kaḍambu (கடம்பு) flower—Eugenia racemosa—embraced one another and caught hold of one another's hands and danced the Kuravai (குரவை) dance on the open fields; all through the village they hymned his greatness, they sang songs in his honour, they danced many dances and the blending of these sounds caused confusion.
The Vēlan proclaiming the might of Murugan refers to an ancient ceremony. When a man is in distress he consults the priest of Murugan, who throws about the seeds of the Kaḻaṅgu (கழங்கு.) or Kaḻarkoḍi (கழற்கொடி.) Gulandina bonduce, and from the lay of the seeds on a plate reads the occult cause of the man's trouble and prescribes the worship of Murugan as a remedy. This ceremony is technically called Kaḻaṅgu.