There are many Draupadi Amman temples in villages of Tamilnadu and Druapadi probably is being worshiped as Mother Goddess along with other deities. Even in Karnataka there is a festival Karaga festival related to Draupadi. How did she evolved in to Goddess in far away in a different cultural zone?
Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Draupadi is worshipped as a goddess in some places where she is generally believed to be a village deity. Most villages in south India have a presiding protective deity. This is seem especially in Tamil Nadu.
It is either some form of the Mother Goddess (Amman) or in the male form as Aiyyanar.
The belief there is that she was an incarnation of Goddess Kali who had taken birth to assist Lord Vishnu in the annihilation of unrighteousness. Goddess Kali is believed to be the personification of the fury of Goddess Durga, with Goddess Parvati being the benevolent form.
As Lord Vishnu considers Goddess Parvati as His sister, Goddess Kali is also His sister. This is the explanation given for the deep sibling-like bond that Krishna and Draupadi shared. As she was born to help Krishna in the fulfilment of His avatar, Draupadi is feted as Goddess Kali in many little temples dotted all across southern India.
There is nothing like southern India being in a different cultural zone when it comes to divinity. In Kerala, most of the family deities are forms of Durga. On my dad’s side, the family deity is Goddess Kali. On my mother’s side, the family deity is Goddess Bhuvaneshwari.
Plus, the Pandavas had spent a considerable amount of time in several places in southern India during their exile period. There is a place named Panchalimedu or ‘Hill of Panchali’ in the Kerala where the Pandavas and Draupadi had spent the last year of their 13 year exile before their one year of going incognito.
The pond you see in the picture above is believed to have been built by the Pandavas for their dear wife to have her daily bath. It is aptly named Panchalikulam or ‘The Pond of Panchali’.
Then there is the famous Lord Shiva temple at Ernakulam (Kerala) which is believed to be the spot where Arjuna fought with Lord Shiva in His Kirata form (Kitararjuneeyam).
The Shivling in the temple is the same one that Arjuna made with his bare hands.
The slightly bigger than life-size idol of Sree Poornathrayeesa in Tripunithura (Kerala) is said to have been brought down from Vaikuntham by Arjuna and Krishna after the episode of saving the Brahmin’s children and after they saw Lord Vishnu in His ‘Santhanagopalamurthy’ form.
So it’s not like the Mahabharata is a story that has no relation with southern India. Mahabharata happened in Bharat and it is as much a part of southern Indian culture as it is of northern, eastern, western or central Indian culture.