An analysis of history of Tamil religion/Part:09

Hundreds of deities were recognized in the Sumerian pantheon.Many were wives,children,and servants of the more powerful deities.The gods were organized into a caste system. At the head of the system,there were four most important & powerful gods.They were the water-god Enki ,the air-god Enlil,the heaven-god An/Anu.[An="sky, heaven"] and the fourth god is the great mother goddess Ninhursang,She is principally a fertility goddess.Nin-hursag means "lady of the sacred mountain" (from Sumerian NIN "lady" and ḪAR.SAG "sacred mountain,foothill".]Also she is a daughter of An and Nammu.Often stated as Enlil's sister,but also as his wife.These were the four
creator deities who created all of the other gods.An.was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon and was called Anu by the later Akkadians in Babylonian culture.An means "sky, heaven" & Hence,he was called as a sky-god or the god of heaven.An was initially the head of the pantheon,though he was eventually seceded by Enlil & become  a leader of the pantheon from at least 2500 BC,Enlil meant Lord Wind:both the hurricane and the gentle winds of spring were thought of as the breath issuing from his mouth. He was sometimes called as Lord of the Air.Enlil became the greatest of the gods,the god who punished people and watched over their safety and well-being.Enlil is seen as the most important god.He is known as "the king of heaven and earth," "the father of the gods," and "the king of all the gods." Enlil developed the broad designs for the universe.However,it was Enki who further developed and carried out his plans.Enki is later known as Ea in Akkadian and
Babylonian mythology.He is known as the god of waters & a god of wisdom.Ninhursag was regarded as the mother of all living beings.Except enki/Ea,who sometimes took a form that was half-man and half-fish,all other Mesopotamian/sumerians gods are human in form.Other Mesopotamian gods are representing moon,stars,..etc,which they required in their day to day life there.They believe that each of these created by the respective gods.Archaeological excavation of mesopotamia shows that sumerian had over 2500 different deities.Many gods have what sounds like the same role.Usually,these are all the same deity, just different epithets of the one deity.For instance,earth goddesses –Ki, Ninhursaga,Ninki, are all the same goddesses just different aspects. 

Every city had the temple for the patron god of that city.The most famous holy city
was Nippur,which was the home of Enlil,the storm god.The patron god or goddess of a city had the largest temple in the city,but there were smaller temples and shrines to other gods throughout.The god of a particular temple was thought to literally inhabit that building and most temples were designed with three rooms,all heavily ornamented,the innermost being the room of the god or goddess where that deity resided in the form of his or her statue.Every day the priests of the temple were required to tend to the needs of the god.For example,“to the sound of music,hymns,and prayers,the god was washed [bathed],clothed,perfumed,fed and entertained by minstrels and dancers.Daily.In
clouds of incense,meals of bread,cakes,fruit and honey were set before the deity,along with offerings of beer,wine and water…On feast days the statues of the deities were taken in solemn procession through the courtyard and the streets of the city accompanied by singing and dancing.The gods of every city were accorded this respect and, it was believed,they needed to make the rounds of the city at least once a year in the same way a good ruler would ride out from his palace to inspect his city regularly.

The people of Mesopotamia generally relied on their gods for every aspect of their
lives,from calling on Kulla,the god of bricks,to help in the laying of the foundation of a house,to petitioning the goddess Lama [Lamassu] for protection.The earliest written records of the first Sumerian societies were about the operation of temples with details of the religion,written in the form of clay tablets.Various of these clay tablets have been found now and These all help to give an overview of the sumerian religion.Also Since each city-state in ancient Sumer worshipped its own god,practices and beliefs varied widely.Each city had its own mythology and theology (religious belief).There was no unified Sumerian religion.Sumerian religion was what is described as polytheistic(worship of many gods).It could also be described as henotheistic(worship of one god without denying the existence of other gods).In general,Sumerian religion was characterized by polytheism,animism,and anthropomorphism. 

..................................................................    [By:Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

Part- 10 Will nextweek.