Friday, March 31, 2017

Stage set for Panguni fest

Last minute preparations are going on at Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore for the Panguni fest which starts on April 1. 

Executive officer of the temple D. Kaveri says, “The pandal and painting work is going on and is expected to be done on Saturday. We have been told by TANGEDCO that there will be no interruptions in the power supply during this festival. Drinking water will be provided inside the temple”.

Chennai Corporation has been asked to reset a section of the recently-relaid platform near Thangavel Nadar Stores on R. K. Mutt Road, Mylapore, to ease the movement of the big and small chariots.

Police will put out traffic diversion notices as well plans to restrict annadhanam to only some spots on the the mada streets.

Some senior citizens wondered if a special platform on a side of East Mada Street could be set up for them to watch the key processions in peace. Kaveri has said only the popular Thirukalyanam ceremony is being shows live on a big screen in Sannidhi Street.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bhaktas' donation; two new umbrellas for the gods

Two new umbrellas for the gods are getting ready for the festival. And these are a personal donation and group effort of a band of Shiva bhaktas here.
One of them shows us how they have followed the traditional methods of making the umbrellas. "It will cost us some Rs.18,000 for each while the professional makers will charge about Rs.25,000," we are told.
They want us to keep this effort unknown because they could get a negative response from the professional umbrella makers of Chintadripet.
An old umbrella, largely pink stands in a corner; still inspiring the men here as they work on the hood of the yellow-based one.

"It needs some skill to carry temple umbrellas," says one volunteer as we try to lift one and it slants quickly.

Restoring vahanams, ther accessories

Kodambakkam-based Damodharam and his team have been for years designing and making chariots for temples here and abroad.
Now, his team led by his daughter is racing against time and braving the rising heat to complete work on restoring and repainting a few vahams and much of the accessories of the giant ther ( chariot) at Sri Kapali Temple.
This is not an easy job. And on the face of it, is done in a  hurry.  We saw her team give the finishing touches to giant dwara-palakas and chip away at the fading slivers of paint on horses that are fixed on to the ther.
This team says that the ther and most accessories here are over 200 years ago; a close look at the patterns on the raw portion of the wood will help us deduce that.
"But all the minute features are gone aren't they?", we ask, referring to the grand architecture of minute figures framing the base of the ther.
"That's because the painted layers have grown…and if we chip away these now nothing much of the figures will be left," says a senior of the team.
Later, the temple's executive officer tells us that in the past two years all 40-plus vahanams have been restored.

It is a tough job; though you wish the artisans got more time and better space to do a slow, creative job of all this.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Challenges; tight security, civic and crowd management and the heat

With loads of experience, the festival rituals and processions run clock-work.
But there is much to be done on other key issues that concern such a huge festival that attracts at least 50,000 to one lakh people across 11 days.
Security of devotees, traffic management and avoiding food wastage at annadhanam time are join to be areas of focus this year.
There are instances of jewellery and purse thefts every fest. So local police want to caution women to attend the fest without or minimum gold jewels.
Civic conditions go for a toss here - this year more mobile toilets are to be stationed on the mada streets. But there is a need for volunteers to guide people to these loos.
A more serious issue is wasted of food and drink given free at annadhanam time on arubathumoovar day. 
Police now plan to allocate spaces on the mada streets where donors can provide free food and drink to devotees. Chennai Corporation staff has been asked to clear the streets of food and other refuse and be proactive near the annadhanam spaces so that food is not dumped and stamped on here, a regular and woeful feature of the festival.

Daytime temperatures are rising; from 33 degrees now. It will be a rather sweaty festival season. Metro Water is also being asked to set up drinking water tanks on the mada streets.

Dances alongside processions, rituals; be there!

Music and dance follows from the Panguni festival's religious schedule.
And some of the best artistes are featured in the vidaiyarti schedule that starts on April 13 evening.
Now, Chennai-based Prayathnam, a body which has formatted the teaching and learning of Bharatanatyam, has curated a set of short dance recitals which will be performed at the start or end of key rituals/processions in the Sannithi Street zone - inside the 16-pillared mantap or close to it or even inside the temple if some space is free.
Nritya Upacharaam feathers five recitals, some as early as 6 a.m. and some late at night.
Here is the schedule -
Apr   4 - Disciples of Gayathri Sasidaran - (Adhikara nandi day, just before the procession begins - about 5 am )
Apr   7 -  Disciples of Saikripa Prasanna - ( at the return of the Rishaba Vahanam nught-long procession  - about 5.30 am)
Apr   8 - Disciples of Ranganayaki Jayaraman as the Ther returns to the temple zone after the evening-long pro0cession - about 6 pm )
Apr 10 -  Senthil Kumar and Anand ( Bikshadanar day - 5.45 pm)
Apr 11 -  Disciples of Archana Mahesh (Tirukkalyanam - 9.30 pm )

This part of the Panguni initiative is supported by Mylapore Times newspaper ( and, a web site for music and dance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Panguni fest invitation given out on Saturday

On Saturday, Mar. 25, more than five thousand devotees had assembled at Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore for two reasons. The first was to witness the Shani pradosham celebrations and the second was to get a copy of the Panguni festival invitation.

As Lord Shiva did three rounds, devotees waited. The invitation was then placed in front of the vahanam. After three rounds and the deepa aradhanai, copies of the Tamil invitation, printed on yellow, pink and blue sheets of paper were distributed to the devotees who formed a queue in front of the temple office to receive the same. More than a 1000 invitations were given out in less than 10 minutes.

The invitations with details of the music festival are expected to be released today (Mar. 27).

Sunday, March 26, 2017

This year, ther procession starts very early

If you are planning to take part in the Panguni fest, look closely at the schedule for 2017.
The only event that is taking place at an hour that you may not be familiar with - the ther procession will begin at 6.15 am on April 8, a Saturday.
The rituals start at 5 a.m. that day.
The ther (chariot) usually started to roll at about 8.45 a.m.

Perhaps, the early morning start will enable devotees to soak in early as summer has broken and the day temperature runs up to 34/35 degrees.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

This is everybody's fest; Mylapore will hold that up

Prodoshams are always big events at Sri Kapali Temple. The entire temple campus and the space outside is packed to the sides and so it was this Saturday evening.
But today also had a special little event – the formal release of the invitation to the temple’s annual Panguni festival, starting April 1.
Copies of the mass-printed schedule were distributed to all the people who attended the prodosham ceremony this evening.
By this time, popular stores were also sharing the Panguni time table; the popular Mami’s Mess which was also packed to the walls as the devotees packed in here to tuck into hot dosas or steaming idlis, gave out color sheets of the Panguni schedule.
In many ways this fest is everybody's; you walk around Mylapore now and you will find many stores and eat outs offering the Panguni time-table.

Repainting Images; hopefully the right manner

A group of artisans are busy working at the temple campus now. They have to dust, restore and paint the dozens of vahanams for the festival.
We are told that these are traditional artisans.

But Bhaskar Krish, in a comment posted on the Mylapore Times FB page says the artisans must keep in mind that restoration of the vanhams must not affect the originality of these religious images. "Nowadays they paint with multiple colors and the heritage look is lost…', he adds.

What is your opinion on restoration at temples?

The Lagna Patrika ceremony

Traditions run deep at temple festivals. And they are human, natural too.
They are practices that we all follow in our ways, our lives.

And so on March 7, the public declaration of a symbolic wedding of the Kapali and Karpagambal of Mylapore was made. The lagna patrika ceremony.

Hundreds of devotees, mostly women attended this evening ceremony.

These two photos capture the mood of that evening.

Here is the schedule for 2017

We seek the official schedule of the festival from the temple when March dawns.
It takes time to get our hands on it.
We believe that information posted early serves people who plan to attend the festival.
But the temple managers have their ways on such matters.

This year, the fest is from April 1 and ends formally on April 12.

Thereafter, a series of music concerts begin. A time for the gods to unwind and music to swirl around.

Here is the Panguni schedule -

We will post the concerts timetable shortly!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Welcome to Panguni Fest 2017. Our coverage has begun.

Mylapore Times, the free, English neighbourhood newspaper of 23 years welcomes you to our coverage of yet another Panguni Festival 2017. The festival that makes Mylapore grand, colorful, religious and traditional. In many different ways.

The festival of Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore.

Through the next 20 days, we at MYLAPORE TIMES (  will bring you crisp stories of events in the temple and around it and lots of photos and videos of the daily events of Panguni.

Be with us through this coverage. We promise a ringside view of the fest. Share this web link with friends and relatives across the world.
And mail us; when you want us to specially cover something that gets ignored! Or you have a warm word for our work!