Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Golu in Mylai Karpagambal Koil

In spite of being a Chennaite, my visit to Mylai Karpagambal temple has been very rare, may be once or twice in a year.

From childhood, all of us in the family tried to avoid temple visits on festival days because of the crowd. My sister Jayashree is an exception. She has been making it a point to visit temples on festival days so that she can experience the festivities and enjoy the grandeur! During this Navarathri from day four, she has been suggesting that I go with her to Karpagambal temple on Vijayadasami. To tempt me, she mailed me a few photographs of the Golu in the temple taken by her friend.
Yesterday being a holiday for Vijayadasami, we started for the temple around 630 pm. The auto driver refused to enter the maada veedhi as it was so crowded. We got down at the beginning of the road and started walking down. With great difficulty we kept looking forward and continued walking, avoiding the temptation of the many dolls on sale either side of the road. We decided to have a look at the doll shops only after visiting the temple. As we entered the temple, we were taken aback by the queue standing for general darshan. Luckily, tickets were being given for special darshan and we could enter the sanctum in two minutes. Ambal was looking beautiful! As we had special darshan tickets, we were asked to go round the sannidhi and stand in the special queue. After about 10-12 minutes we reached the sannidhi again and were allowed to sit in front of the deity. I thanked Jayashree then and there! Such was the darshan! We could see the Goddess so close and sit for about 3-4 minutes in front of her. Very satisfied and happy, we proceeded to Kapaleeswarar sannidhi. Again the ticket helped and we were able to sit in front of the Lingam and have a good darshan. I realised that the size of the Lingam in this temple had never registered during my earlier visits. The alangaram was simple but very impressive! We came out and our eyes went in the direction of the Golu there but we forced ourselves to complete the pradhakshinam before going near the Golu. We visited the Annamalayar and Unnamulaiamman sannidhi, Ganapathi sannidhi, Sthala vriksham (punnai maram) with the sannidhi of Ambal in the form of mayil doing puja to Siva lingam, Navagraha sannidhi and Singara Velar sannidhi. Again at Singara Velar sannidhi, we could sit in front of the Lord and have a relaxed darshan.
We then had the darshan of Urchavamurthy of Lord Shiva and Ambal decked with thousands of flowers of different colours. There were about six mirrors in front of the Urchavamurthy in six different pillars that people can see the reflections over and over. On the four sides of each of the pillars were dolls of different Gods and Goddesses.

Now we went in the direction of the Golu. What a sight it was! This year’s speciality is Ashtadik Golu.  The idols were kept in eight directions. There was a long queue in front of the Golu and we joined it. We did not know which side to look! Hope to briefly describe the idols in each dhikku:

1. Rajarajeswari, followed by different forms of Ambal - Meenakshi, Kamakshi, Visalakshi and what not!

2. Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi followed by Vadivudai amman, Kodi idai amman and Thiruvudai amman. On ground level, a beautifully decorated ratham with seer varisai

3. Saraswathi in the top step followed by Lord Shiva in meditation, Natarajar, two idols of Adhi sankarar, Mahavishnu with Lakshmi, Kolkata Kali.

4. This step had beautiful idols depicting the story of Gnanappaal given to Thirugnanasambandar with idols of Shiva, Parvathi feeding milk to Gnanasambandar with Nandhi nearby. On the lower level was Dattathreyar and Mahalakshmi followed by Thiruvannamalai set.

5. Lord Shiva with his family on top step, followed by many idols of the Lord on many Vahanas and then Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with their consorts. Lower level was Lord Shiva in different forms. On the last step were Chettiar Chettichi with a variety of vegetables on one side and their north Indian counterpart with choppu on the other side.

6. Next was the side with my favourite God – Murugan. On top was Arumugan with pannirukaikal (with a mirror behind so that one can see all the six faces), followed by six idols of Murugan as he gives darshan in his Aru padai veedugal. Next step had Murugan with Valli, Deivanai on thogai viritha mayil. Next was Bala Murugan with crown and vel. He was looking so adorable that I felt like lifting and hugging him! On one side Soorapadman transformed into a tree, seval and mayil and a set with pilgrims climbing the hill with the gopuram on the hill and the other side Avvai and Murugan in Suttapazham/Sudathapazham story and Saravana poigai kaatchi. Below the Bala murugan, there was a ratham set with pilgrims

7. Medium sized idols of Annamalayar in full alangaram with Unnamulaiamman in nine yards sari. I kept on looking at the beauty of Amman for 2-3 minutes. This side had Ashtalakshmi, Dakshinamurthy and sets depicting Lord Shiva’s thiruvilayadal, Kanakadhara set etc.

8. A huge Ganapathy surrounded by different forms of the same God. Next step was Viswaroopadarshanam of Mahavishnu with Arjuna at his feet. Such a detailed sculpture! Around the Viswaroopam was Dasavatharam with a ratham and another Ganapathy in the centre.

With great reluctance we came out and started to have a look at the doll shops. Such lovely dolls! Prices were exorbitant and we could not bargain much. We just satisfied ourselves with window shopping and went back home!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Adventure in Hong Kong

When we won Air India tickets to Hong Kong, I was ecstatic but never had an idea that it was going to be so adventurous. The first three days went off well with good local sightseeing, trip to China and a day in Disneyland. On Day Four, we went on a trip to Ocean Park. The bus had tourists not only from our hotel but from other hotels as well and on our way to Ocean Park, our guide spoke non-stop. His talking was a lullaby for us as at 800 am HK time, we were feeling quite sleepy! Finally I heard him saying that if we do not wait in the place shown by him in the evening, he will come and pick us up the next day. We also smiled at this joke of his like everyone else and got down from the bus to enter the park.

Only after entering, we understood how massive it was. We checked the map and noticed that the famous Dolphin Show was at regular intervals of two hours. We planned to watch the show at 3 pm as it was on the ground level close to the entrance we had come through.

We then proceeded to different levels via the escalators which ran up to 3-4 levels very high from the ground and had a great time going on the rides, having a look at the various aquatic animals like sharks, sea-lions, whales and many other kinds of fish in their natural surroundings. There were not only aquatic animals but a couple of Pandas and many birds too, all in their natural habitats. Some rides were very nice but some were really scary. I refused to get into the mine train, but Ranga was very keen to go and had good fun. I enjoyed the ride on the Ocean Park tower which revolved from a lower level to the higher level at a medium speed giving us a full view of the Ocean Park. I also loved the cable car ride by which we came back to the entrance to go to the Dolphin Show.

Sharp at 2.30 pm we proceeded to the show with a huge coke in hand and found good seats. The show was great and the dolphins looked so cute. They did all the antics the trainer made them do and it was a pleasure to watch them. The show was for about 30 minutes and when it ended we came straight to the entrance praising ourselves for being prompt as we were the first ones to come and wait for the bus. Little did we realise that we will be the only ones to wait there! 4.10 pm saw us checking with the may I help you counter? about the bus. The people there were very helpful as they allowed us to make a call to the agency. Only after the call we understood that we were supposed to wait at the other end of the park. Even if we were allowed to enter the park (only we had already used the ticket to enter once) it would take a minimum of 30 minutes to cross the distance and reach the other end. We considered taking a taxi and reaching the other side by road, but it was already 4.30 pm and we remembered what the guide had said and panicked.

As we were wondering how to reach the hotel as taxis were too expensive to travel such a long distance, the Help Counter came to our rescue once again. They suggested that we take a bus to Hong Kong city and then take the ferry from there to the hotel. This gave us some confidence as by walking on the first two days from the hotel to the ferry, we were a bit familiar with Kowloon area. We got a bus within 10 minutes and were seated comfortably. As soon as we sat, I opened the detailed map of the city which we were given at the hotel and thanked God. I also mentally acknowledged my friend Anil thanks to whom, I had got into the habit of studying maps in detail. I followed the bus route on the map. We reached the city and enquiring once or twice, reached the ferry. After that it was quite simple to find our hotel. Though I felt that it was quite adventurous to find our own way in a strange city, Ranga breathed easy only after we saw the familiar sight of Kimberley Hotel.