The Kulasai Mutharamman Temple, located at Kulasekharapatanam near Thiruchendur in Thoothukudy district of Tamil Nadu is famed for its unique mode of celebrating the Navarathri or Dasara Festival. Devotees who arrive for the festival take alms from house to house to raise funds for their expenses. And whatever money remains after their expenses are offered to the temple.
The temple, believed to be 300 years old, has the idols of Goddess Mutharamman and Swamy Gnanamoorthiswarar installed together. Dasara is the biggest festival at this temple located at Kulasekharapuram, an ancient port town.
The devotees arriving for the festival undergo fast for 41 days. During the last ten days, which includes the Navarathri days, the devotees dress up emulating the gods and goddesses of the local pantheon. They have to keep away from intoxication and other forms of indulgent, as well as refrain from violent and sinful acts of any sort. Some of the devotees even assume the guise of Goddess Kali. Some others assume the garbs of local gods like Chudalamadan, Kariyilamadan, Changalamadan, Asuran etc. Many people come to these dressed up devotees and seek their blessings.
The devotees walk towards the temple wearing these garbs, and after the rituals they go to the sea to wash off the makeup.
There are many legends associated with the history of the temple, the most popular among them being the one associated with the demon, Mahishasura. According to this story, as the demon Mahishasura attained dangerous powers for conquering all the worlds, the Goddess took the incarnation of a girl child named Lalithambika for killing the demon. The girl grew up into adulthood within nine days and on the tenth day, she was transformed into Parasakthi Lalithambika and slew the demon. The tenth day is celebrated as Dasara in this temple.
According to another legend, there happened an outbreak of smallpox in this village. To ward off the disease which is believed to have been caused by the wrath of the Goddess, the devotees took a collection and made an offering to the Goddess, leading to the alleviation of the disease. So, the tradition of conducting a pompous annual festival was started to maintain the memory of this incident, according to the belief.
Many devotees from other places also arrive for this festival every year.