There was a rich merchant in Karaikal named Dhanadathan. His prayers for a child were answered, and he was blessed with a beautiful girl, whom he named Punitavati. Even when she was a child, Punitavati showed her inclination to serve Lord Siva. Even as she took her first steps and learnt to walk, she developed bhakti towards the Lord.

There was a rich trader in Nagapattinam, called Nidipathi. His son was Paramadathan. Punitavati was married to Paramadathan, and he set up house in Karaikal. Paramadathan was adept in business and added to his wealth. Punitavati, in the meanwhile, continued to worship Siva, and provided food to sages who visited her house. Punitavati, who later became famous as Karaikal Ammaiyar, was a saintly person, and her husband was perhaps not the right choice for her. While the story of Karaikal Ammaiyar shows her devoutness and godliness, it is also a story about the need to make the right choice when it comes to marriage, Sarala Rajagopalan said in a lecture.

One day, Paramadathan gave his wife two mangoes and asked her to serve them to him when he came home for food. But while he was away, a devotee of Siva came to his house, and Punitavati served him one of the two mangoes. When Paramadathan sat down for lunch, she served him the remaining fruit. He asked her to serve the other fruit too, but how could she, when she had already given it to the visiting sage? She, therefore, prayed to the Lord, who gave her a fruit, which she passed on to her husband. He found it tastier than the one he had consumed earlier. He asked her how this fruit was so tasty, and she told him the truth.

Disbelieving her, he asked her to pray to Siva for another similar fruit. She did, and a fruit did appear, only to vanish from Paramadathan’s hands in a few seconds. Astonished, Paramadathan left home, married another woman and settled down in the Pandya Kingdom. Had he been as inclined to serve the Lord and His devotees as his wife was, he would have remained with her and the two of them could have carried on the good work. But because of her divinity, he said he could no longer look upon her as his wife.