Twenty important facts about worshiping Family Deity (Kudumba Devta)

Pateeswaram Durga temple, near Kumbakonam.Native Planet

Pateeswaram Durgai temple. Dhivya Dharsanam
 The worship of Kula Devta  (deity of a clan) or Kudumbha Devta (family deity) has been in vogue for centuries among the Hindus. It was more common among the Indian rulers in the past who used to conduct war campaigns against other kingdoms. In the Hindu Pantheon, there are many gods and goddesses and unlike Christianity or Islam, there is no messenger of God in Hinduism. Nor is there any  set of religious principles  governed by a powerful  centralised governing body.  Hinduism is a way of life  and idolatry is part of it. So, choosing  the deity in whom  you can confide and trust to lead your life successfully is your prerogative and also you are free to use your discretion. Frankly speaking, it is unusual in any other religion. In Hinduism  there are many mythological legends drawing inspiration from various episodes in the Ramayana and Mahabharata and other works. If you have a rationalistic bend of mind you  do not care to go deeper and try to understand what such legends teach you. You may feel compelled  to set aside them as just myth or simply "nonsense", but, invariably, almost all them have an underlying moral connotation  that has to be taken into serious consideration. Giving due importance to moral values is fundamental to good and peaceful  living and Hinduism emphasises morality and integrity in ever phase of our lives. When a man is on his life's journey, it is obvious, it is a see-saw battle for him to move ahead  and he  may enjoy success  today and later he may be in a bear pit, trying to wiggle out of the difficult situation. On such occasions a man or a woman, dejected and disoriented as he is,  seeks the help of  a deity. A visit to the temple will give him or her peace and tranquillity  or satisfaction and this will boost the confidence level to face challenges in life. Taking refuge in God is a common practice in India and it is deeply ingrained in our culture. This is also true of other religions as well. 
The word Kuladevata is derived from two words: Kula, meaning clan and Devata, meaning deity. On the other hand Kudumba Devita refers to family deity which defers from family to family. Let me confine myself to Kudumba Devta (in Tamil: Kudumba Deivam). The deity that has been worshipped by our forefathers on the paternal side for several generations is our Kudumba Deivam (Kudumba Devta). The Kudumba deity can be a male or female. Invariably in countless families Parasakthi seems to be the family deity. Equally common are the various forms of Vishnu, Shiva and a form of Parasakthi called Mariamman. The last one is quite common in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karnataka. Kali is widely worshiped in Kerala, so in West  Bengal. Guruvaurappan (Sri Krishna) and  Bhagavathi (a form of Kali)  are  yet another Family Gods in Kerala.

Some interesting facts of worship of Kudumba Devta (Kuladeivam):

Chakkulathukavu Sree Bhagavathy Temple,Kerala Tourism
 Above image: In Kerala  countless Hindu families worship this Amman - Chakkulathukavu Bagavathi  as their family deity (deivam) ....................

01. Among the Hindus,it is believed, that  the family deity is the one who protects the family and the succeeding lineage / generations. Worshiping  of family deity should not be ignored  as it helps the  family lineage grow and take strong roots.

02. Kudumba Devta temple is the place where our paternal forefathers once worshiped. The belief has been that when we visit the temple the souls  of our forefathers will be happy and bless us with good, prosperous and healthy life. This is true of Hindus belonging to various castes. As for Brahmins, they can trace their paternal lineage to one sage / Maharishi. So, members of a particular family having the same Gothra never fail to visit the family deity's temple once a year.

03. When you stand before the Garbagraha (sanctum) or Srikovil at such a temple, let it be borne in your mind, you are standing in the  same spot where, way back a few centuries ago, your forefathers stood and prayed to the deity with intense devotion and bhakti for their welfare and their descendants, including you!!.

04. The temple of you family deity assumes much significance because it is the confluence of countless divine souls of  our grandfathers and great grandfathers and their blessings will never let us down in our endeavours and in our time of distress.

05.  Worship of Kudumba Devta (in Tamil: Kudumba Vazhipadu), tradition has it, governs only the paternal lineage  - pithas Vhamsavali. (your mother is part of this lineage).

06. Kudumba Devatas, it is strongly believed by the learned Pundits, are capable of reducing the  effects of Karma from which no one can escape. This dogma permeates in all aspects in Hinduism. Our protecting shield against the effects of Karma is sincere prayer or "Kudumba Deiva Vazhipadu". 

07. Hindu women, normally, worship two family deities. One is of the family in which they were born and the other being (in Tamil: Puguntha veetu Deivam or Devta) that of the groom's family after marriage. Women usually stop worshipping their  family deity after marriage. Some Pundits are of the opinion that it is wrong for the women to forget their  family deity and they can carry on  their worship on festival occasions. The link with wife's family deity should not be broken.

08. If a girl gets married into  another family, the family deity of her husband   becomes her deity and her descendants (Vamsavali) who  take the leneage forward.  it is imperative that she must have more involvement with her husband's family deity than other deities.

09. When there is a wedding, Upanayanam, Grahapravesam  or any other joyous family function, visiting the Kudumba Devta temple is a must.

10. In the case of wedding, the family must take the groom and the bride to the Kudumba  Devta temple soon after wedding. If time is not ripe, it should be done within a year from the day of wedding.

11. In the case of elderly couple celebrating 60th birthday (Saishtiaptapoorthy) or 80th birthday (Sathabishekam), worshiping the family deity is highly  recommended. 

12. If the  elderly couple have health problems, etc., they can pray to the image of the family deity kept in the Puja room at home..

13. If there is a birth of a child or grand child in the family, it will be well and good to pay a visit to the family deity's temple for prayer and blessings. 

14. As for tonsuring  of young kids, which is a common ritual in South India, if your family temple is not Praththanasthala, it should not be done there unless specified. For such a prayer involving tonsuring -"Mudikooduthal", Prarthanasthala is the best bet. 

15. When you go to your family deity's temple, it is a great thing if make monetary contribution to the temple liberally.

16. An important charitable act is offering Annadhanam - giving free food to the devotees and the poor people. 

17. After your payer at the temple, keep the Prasadam,in particular, Kungumam or veeputhi in your Puja room. 

18. Never fail to allow a few minutes daily to pray to your family deity.  Be assured that the God or Goddess  will follow you wherever you go and protect you or at least save you from big obstacles. 

19. Mind you, in the family deity reside the souls of your forefathers who never fail to protect you and your family members from any other evil forces or witchcraft. 

20. When you stand before the deity -  any god or goddess,  trust is an important factor. This trust is the driving force behind you that helps you  improve the confidence level in you.

Ref: from various sources