Monday, March 18, 2019

Vaira Swami joins the Arubathimoovar procession

It is a little past 8.30 p.m. on March 18 and Vaira Swami from Chindratripet has just joined the Arubathimoovar procession. Decked in diamond jewels, he is always accompanied by several police personnel. 

The Mylapore tradition of feeding devotees

This is a Mylapore tradition. One that has been religiously followed by many families during the annual Panguni festival of Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai.
To provide food free to devotees at the temple for the grandest and most unique religious event here - the procession of the Saivite saints. 63 of them.
The arubathumoovar.

People stream in since the morning though the procession starts when the day is steaming at 3 p.m.
And many families spend the midnight hours cooking for the devotees. Some cook a few kilos; some huge amounts.
Pongal, kesari, sambhar/curd rice.

The Nataraja Iyer family on Mathala Narayana Street has been offerning annadhanam for decades - perhaps the past 60 years. What started small is now a big affair.

Two evenings ago, one of the grand man's sons ( Iyer had eight children ) invited me into one of the old, old tile-roofed houses to show me the bags of basmati rice, dhal, chillies, bottles of oil and baskets of spice powder were stocked.

Cooks would have started work on Sunday night ( the day of the procession of the grand chariot - thiruther ).
On Monday morning, people will be served pongal/kesari/pakoda and later, brinji/pakoda/chappatis and kurma. Cooks will spill on to the street side and carry on cooking till noon.

And thousands of devotees will be fed.
One hopes people respect the food; many eat parts and toss away the rest and then look for other food donors!

Old world Mylapore gets fossilised in these houses.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Ther starts rolling

Thiru Ther started rolling from this morning 7 a.m.

Hundreds of devotees gathered at the East Mada Street, Mylapore from where the procession started.

Students of Natyanjali followed the ther performing classical dance.

Here is a video of Ther making its way through East Mada Street.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

It was the turn of the elephant today

The Yaanai vahanam procession held today night was a colourful one.

But what probably struck out was the way in which the Sri Padam volunteers walked with the heavy vahanam on their shoulders.  And when they moved to the beats of the nadaswaram and tavil, a few devotees who had gathered there skipped and hopped along with them.

The pictures seen here were taken by Vana Narayanan, a resident of Mylapore.

Rishaba vahanam: A midnight procession

The Rishaba vahanam procession started a little after midnight on March 16.  Here are a few pictures taken at the temple..

A kolam made out of flowers and grains

Lord Kapaleeswarar decorated with huge garlands and shiny ornaments

The deities, all ready to be taken out in procession

Devotees wait with their offerings

Re-enactment of the Angampoompavai incident

Every year, during the panguni festival, the story of how saint Thirugnanasambandar revived Angampoompavai is re-enacted the day after the Ther rolls out onto the Mada Streets.

An abhishekam is performed for the deity who is carried to the temple tank in a small pallaku.

An air of festivity pervades as scores of people throng the neighbourhood, both to catch a glimpse of the morning pooja and to witness the Arubathimoovar festival which is held in the evening.

Ther is set to ride tomorrow

Ther has been set for its ride. The temple volunteers have completed the it's decoration today. 

Ther procession will take place tomorrow from 6 a. m. onwards. 

Take a look at the decorated Pallaku

Take a look at the Pallaku that was taken out this morning.

Minute and innovative artworks have been woven into the velvet cloth. R. Balaji, an artisan from cintadripet, who traditionally makes it has contributed to this.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Wooden stoppers for Ther getting ready

This evening, workers were trimming the wooden stoppers (sara kattai) that are used to stop and turn the ther. The handles were rounded with a grinder to get a firm grip.

Around 30 stoppers are made every year. "For stopping the ther once we use four kattias - two on the inner side and two on the outer side of the wheel. And all the 30 will get broken by the end of the procession, " says K. Saravanan, a Sri Padam volunteer.

These Sri Padams are skilled in inserting the stoppers. But still they say it is a challenging task.

"Some stoppers might even get broken within a single use. Though we have some extra ones, it sometimes gets very difficult if they break," he says.

Adikara Nandi: Marking the donation of the silver kavacham

Every year, during the panguni festival, a special pooja is offered to Adikara Nandi the night before the procession by the members of the Thandarai Vaidhyar family. The family donated the silver kavacham to the deity in 1917.

A small celebration was organised by Mylapore Trio at the temple. A dance was put up by Sugathan Mohandass.