VIJAYAWADA: Devotees offering flowers, money, gold, fruits and food to their favourite deities is common. But there is a deity in Visakhapatnam which is pleased with stones. Called  “Raalla-Devatha” (Stone Goddess), the local deity is placed in an open area near Mettameedipalem village of Anandapuram mandal in the city limits.

The temple is very popular for years for fulfilling wishes of devotees and people of Mettameedipalem, Vemulavalasa, Anandapuram, Thagarapuvalasa, Padmanabham and many other surrounding areas offer prayers on Tuesdays and Fridays.

A small stone idol at the Raalladevatha temple is worshipped and villagers offer kumkum, turmeric and bangles. Though none of the villagers is unaware of when the worship started, there is hush-hush talk about the genesis of the Goddess.

M Narayana, a farmer and senior citizen of Mettameedipalem village, says that it was around 40 to 50 years ago when a businessman has cut a huge rock for construction purpose near Mettameedipalem. After that, the Goddess appeared in his dream and asked him to put her idol at the place. Regretting his action, the businessman set up a small stone idol, and since then it is being worshipped. It is the deity which likes to receive stones or bricks. Some call ‘Raallapolamma’ and some others  ‘Raalla Ammavaru’ in this region,” he said.

According to the villagers, the ‘Ralladevatha’ fulfils each and every wish of her devotees. The locals believe that in the case of any problem with marriages to girls in the village, they offer prayers and then the wish is fulfilled.

There will be no priest, but devotees themselves offer prayers. The surrounding area of the temple is littered with heaps of stones and bricks which were offered by devotees. Every Tuesday, a number of devotees make votive offerings. A small hundi has been also kept there, but few drop money, say locals.

“A small stone/brick and a dedicated prayer are enough for the Raalladevatha deity. My wishes were also fulfilled. I have been working in this area for the last 12 years. My grandfather told me about the deity and he was also unaware of its origin,” said Tammina Appalaraju, the proprietor of Vijayavahini Brick Industries. He has a shop in front of the temple. Appalaraju, as a votive offering, has constructed a path and planted saplings in the surroundings.

Another person of Vemulavalasa, Mandaram said that after every wedding ceremony in the surrounding villages, the newly-wed are brought to the temple before they are taken to their houses. Moreover, the Mettameedipalem villagers organise the deity festival once in six years.

Trucks/lorry and auto drivers in the region offer stones to the Goddess before they hit the fast lane. They believe that the deity will bless them for a safe journey. Students of engineering colleges in the surroundings also worship the deity.