Goddess of the Hunt: Are Korravai & Diana the same?

In Perumalpatti village, bordering Virudhunagar, a sculpture of Kotravai, called the goddess of war and triumph in Tamil culture, was unveiled standing beside a stag. The sculpture, believed to date back to early Pandiyan era, was found while ploughing the garden of one Karuppaiah.

Assistant Professor of History in Rajapalayam Raju’s College, B Kandasamy, said that carved stones were also unearthed. The stones might have been carved for the construction of a temple here. At a nearby location, two rivers called Devi and Vadamalai converged.

The locals could have started worshipping the goddess and then started building a temple on the spot afterwards. The river may have crossed the banks at some point, allowing the sculpture and the stones to go down into the ground. A Kotravai sculpture is a rarity in the southern regions of Tamil Nadu, and this discovery is the second to be found in the state and the first in the south.

"The first one is kept in a Chennai museum," Kandhasamy said. Its softness and the animal - stag - standing beside the goddess is another fascinating thing about the sculpture. There are four hands in the sculpture of the goddess, of which three are absent. The statue's pedestal has also been located. The monument was kept under a nearby tree and people began to worship it.

They have begun to worship it.

There are four hands in the sculpture of the goddess, of which three are absent. The statue's pedestal has also been located. 

The statue that was found is about two feet below the surface and was held under a nearby tree where it began to be worshipped by people.

In the Tamil tradition of Hinduism, Korravai (Korrawai), also spelled Kotravai or Korravai, is the goddess of battle and victory. She is Murugan's mother- god of war in Hindu pantheon, and Shiva's wife. 

She is both the goddess of the mother and the goddess of fertility, planting and hunters. She is often referred to in the latter form by other names and epithets in South India and Sri Lanka's Tamil tradition, such as Aiyai, Amari, Suli, and Kavuri.

She is among the earliest known goddesses in the Tamil Sangam literature, and she was also discovered in later Tamil literature, especially those related to Shaivism. 

In the many poems in Paripāṭal, she is mentioned, although the devoted poem to her is among those lost to history.
She is mentioned in the anthology of Pattuppattu-the long Tamil poems from 300 BCE to 300 CE, including the Neṭunalvāṭai, Maturaikkanci, Poruṇarāṟṟuppaṭai, and Paṭṭiṉappālai. In the Tamil epic Silappadikaram c 2nd century, she is known as the consort of Lord Shiva and the sister of Vishnu.

She is associated with the Durga-Mahisasuramardini and Kali goddess avatars of Parvati elsewhere in India, depending on the background and her fierceness. This may be the result, over the centuries, of a convergence of regional goddesses in the form of a pan-Hindu deity during the ancient proto-literate period into a single goddess version.

Korravai at the 7th century mandapa, Mahabalipuram.

In the ancient Tamil grammar Tolkappiyam, which is known to be the very first works of the Sangam literature, references are made to Kotravai. The name is derived from the root word korram in the Tamil language, which translates as "victory, success, bravery"

She is also seen as a mother goddess, a symbol of fertility and agricultural success. Traditional rural cultures give her the first harvest. She is identified as a war goddess who is bloodthirsty in some scriptures, such as the Silappadikaram and Ahamnanuru, and they also say that warrior devotees of the Goddess would even give the goddess their own head in a frenzy as an act of worship, love and devotion.

Across Tamil Nadu, the blackbuck (Kalaimaan) is considered to be the vehicle of the Hindu goddess Korravai. In the Mahishasuramardini mandapa Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, which was constructed approximately in the 7th century, she is also seen riding a lion. 

At the Varaha mandapam of Mahabalipuram, with a standing Korravai on a rock-relief panel, both the lion and the blackbuck are shown.

Going by the above findings and the attributes and practices associated with Korravai the semblances are noteworthy to anyone familiar with Diana, the Goddess of the hunt. 
The possibility of cultural exchanges between the early Sumerians and southern India via the trade routes reaching Malabar exists. With a similar origin story is the Samudhric Shastra (or Oceanic Scriptures) which include the planetary deities and some elements of astrology that have assimilated into the native Vedic culture and practices originally brought to India from Eurasia, the Mediterranean and the Romans of Europe over the last few millennia. This possibility of a relationship and a common source of origin or inception of belief system surrounding this specific Goddess needs to be further explored, examined and analyzed.

~Kiran Atma

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