Mariamman is an ancient goddess, whose worship probably originated in the tribal religion of Dravidian India before the arrival of the Aryans and the brahman religion. According to tradition, among the Dravidian mountain tribes as in Coorg in southern Karnataka, human sacrifices were offered to Mariamman. These were replaced with animals and as we have seen, in some villages no animal sacrifices are offered. Here we can see a historical gradation.
Local goddesses such as Mariamman who protect villages and their lands and represent the different castes of their worshippers have always been an important part of the religious landscape of South India. However, we can note periods of special significance. The eclecticism of the Vijayanagar period (1336-1565) encouraged folk religion, which became more important and influenced the more literate forms of religion. In the last century and a half there has been a rebirth of Tamil self-consciousness (see Devotion to Murukan). In the middle of the present century deities such as Mariamman have become linked to the “great tradition” as the strata of society which worship the goddess has become integrated into the larger social order.