The sheer range of meanings the word Mangala carries provides us some insight into the nature of evolution it has undergone through the ages.
1. The word Mangala evidently began its career as a male name. Early Buddhists used it extensively. One of the incarnations of Buddha was known as Mangala. Later, several monks, Bhikkus, were also called Mangala as recorded in the Pali literature. In Srilanka, Mangala is a very frequently used name.
2. However the word Mangala is not exclusive property of Indians. Some of the African males carry the word ‘Mangala’ as part of their name or surname. The word may be of quite ancient origin having a remote African or Mediterranean heritage.
3. One of the Bantu languages is called Mangala. The Bantu word ‘Ngala’ possibly refers to language as there are related Bantu words signifying allied languages such as ‘Bangala’ and ‘Lingala’.
4.According to the folklore of Tanzania, Mangala is the first man created on Earth
5. Some towns in Africa are called either Mangala or Mangalane (Mozambique).
6. The original meaning of the word Mangala appears to be reddish coloured. The reddish planet Mars was called Mangala.
7. Cats having a reddish or mixed, variegated colour are called ‘mangu pucche’ or ‘mangle’ in Tulu.
8. The word Mangala was associated with war. The God of war Mars was named Mangala.
9. The military camping grounds during the regal wars were called Mangala. The war was waged with an aspiration of the success in the expedition. The name of Mangalur for the city of Mangalore came from the Mangala, the camping ground used by the armies of Pandyas and Chalukyas during early eighth century CE.
10. The Mangala was used for the forts built for security around King and his palace. Thus several fort towns in ancient India and Srilanka were called Mangala.
11. The aspiration of success in war possibly led to attachment of feeling of auspiciousness to the word Mangala. The Mangala came to be associated with the meaning of auspiciousness.
12. Auspicious marriage ceremonies were called Mangala in several of the Indian languages, like Malayalam, Kodava and Tulu. In Tulu Mangala was later distorted to Mangila, evidently to accommodate other meanings implied by the word.
13. Several religious or quasi religious ceremonies were known as Mangala. Buddhists ear piercing ceremony was called Mangala.
14. Tulu people use Mangala(m) to refer to safe and successful completion of missions, assignments or ceremonies. The concluding part of a traditional devotional singing (Bhajana) session or a folk drama (Yakshagana) play are called Mangala, meaning the end.The conclusive chant" Mangalam, Jaya Mangalam" in Tulu ceremonies appears to be derived from the Buddhist heritage in the past.
15. The followers of Natha cult extended the conclusive part of the ceremony to refer to the ceremonial obituary customs associated with Natha monks and nuns.
16. The word Mangala now generally represents a female name.
17. Mangaladevi became a form of Godess Shakti, possibly after the crusading missions of Shankaracharya, evidently evolved from the older Buddhist cult of Tara Bhagavathi and allied deified female spirit forms. Besides the well known Mangaladevi at Mangalore, there is another similar Mangaladevi in Idukki district of Kerala. This Mangaladevi of Kumili(Idukki) is a form of Shakti deified from the spirit of Kannaki, a heroine of Sangham age of Tamil literature.
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