Friday, August 27, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Putlur Angala Parameswari

Putlur Angala Parameswari

The next temple we visited was the Putlur Angala Parameswari Koil. After reading on the net that this temple could be quite crowded during weekends, I was a little bothered, but when we reached, we found the temple was fairly empty. There were many shops selling flowers, lemons, bangles etc. We bought a garland of lemon and neem leaves and entered the temple. On the left was a putru (snake hole) which was decked with manjal and kumgumam and there was an idol of Ambal next to the putru. People tie cradles here wishing for progeny. We prayed here and proceeded towards the main sannidhi after completing some pradakshinams. The main sannidhi was quite crowded as the queue was moving rather slowly. As soon as we entered the sannidhi, we could see Ganapathy on the left side. We prayed to him and moved further.

What a sight it was! The main deity is actually a putru, but it is decorated as Ambal’s face and body as Ambal rested here in the form of a putru.

The story behind this is quite fascinating. Once upon a time when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi were travelling in this area, the Goddess became tired and wanted to rest here as this place was cool surrounded by Mango, Neem and Iluppai trees. She told Lord Shiva that she was thirsty and the Lord went in search of water. Out of tiredness, she lay down on her back to rest here. Her mouth was slightly open. This is the form in which the putru is at present. It looks like a lady lying on her back with her mouth slightly open while resting.

Lord Shiva came back to see the Goddess in the form of a putru and he also stands here as Thandavarayan. Since both the God and Goddess are present in the same sannidhi, Nandi stands in the front as a vahanam instead of the usual Simha vahanam of the Goddess.
Legend also says that the Goddess wanted to experience pregnancy herself and she is resting here in the form of a tired pregnant lady with her mouth slightly open.

The putru was covered with land and once when a farmer was wielding his plough, he found blood oozing out of the land. The people in the village found the putru and built the temple here.

As we visited the temple right after Aadi Pooram, there were garlands of glass bangles around the deity and the Goddess herself was looking colourful with the yellow from manjal and red from kumgumam. One can go around the main deity in the form of putru as a pradakshinam and right behind the Goddess, is Thandavarayan and Angala Parameswari as bronze statues. We prayed to them, completed the pradakshinam and then all of us were given a lemon each with the Goddess’s blessing right from the feet of the reclining deity and we collected same in our pallu/dupatta/shirt.
We came out, prayed to the Murugan on the right side of the main sannidhi on our way out.

Opposite the temple is a huge tank with fairly clean water.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Great Ancestors - Part V

Dasarathi Mama

How a chain of thought enters the mind? This morning, when we saw actress Radhika on some TV channel, my husband commented that Radhika has come a long way from her first movie Kizhake Pogum Rail. This reminded me of the movie and when and with whom I saw it etc etc, leading me to ponder about my mama (maternal uncle) Dasarathi.

When I think of Dasarathi, I think of his ever cheerful attitude, craze for movies, very positive outlook and the list goes on.

Dasarathi was born on 10 July 1947 as the 4th child to my maternal grandparents – Ramanathan (Ramu thatha) and Seethalakshmi.

My mother says that Ramu Thatha became prosperous after Dasarathi’s birth. Thatha had bought a huge beautiful Tanjore painting of Ramar pattabishekam just before his birth and hence named him Dasarathi, after Lord Rama. This painting is still in Dasarathi’s house in Thane.

Dasarathi had a polio attack in childhood and one of his feet used to be a little smaller than the other. I never saw him crib about this. He always used to walk with a little difficulty, but a lot of walking he did.

He was a very very loving person with great affection for all his siblings and their children. He had a special love for my mother, his immediate elder sister and all her children. When we were kids, we used to look forward to Dasarathi’s visits because it meant many outings to movie theatres. My mother used to tease that all her brothers spent days together in theatres watching show after show! When I was in 9th standard, Dasarathi came to visit us and I remember him taking us to 10 movies. Going to 10 movies in a span of 15-20 days was an unheard of thing in our household! He used to be a great fan of Sivaji and I remember him cajoling my Thatha, who seldom went to films, to watch a Sivaji movie – Pilot Premnath in Safire theatre. A gang of about 10-12 of us went for the night show in Safire.

Dasarathi’s interest towards cine music including statistics of who wrote the lyrics, composed the music and did the playback for Sivaji and MGR movies rubbed on to me, that I used to try to compete with him and my chitti Revathi in guessing the song/singer etc. when played on TV.

I started reciting Kanda Sashti Kavasam only on Dasarathi’s advice during one of his trips to Chennai. Though I must have been to Tirupathi a couple of times in my childhood, the first trip I can remember was with Dasarathi.

My father does not have the habit of carrying cash in a wallet and I used to be fascinated with Dasarathi’s wallet with many rupee notes neatly lined up. Seeing that I wished to have a wallet just like that when I grew up!

Dasarathi’s cheerful attitude was very contagious – he had an ever smiling face and helpful nature. He used to talk very teasingly, but never hurt anybody. He always used to wish well for everyone. We sisters used to have a rack full of glass bangles and he used to bless us saying, “let the rack be filled with gold bangles!” Whenever we visited him at his place, he used to shower us with gifts.

He never failed to attend any function in our family and was always a moral support to my parents!

Not only mental attitude, he used to present himself so well. The kind of clothes, perfumes and goggles he used were very fashionable!

Amma says that he had a very keen brain right from childhood. Sitting inside their house, he used to identify the makes of cars on hearing the sound of their horns even at the age of 7-8 years.

This was how Dasarathi looked during my parents wedding in 1958

He had a great name and was very popular in his workplace – Ulka Advertising. As the saying goes “you come to know how good a person was by the number of people who attend his funeral” - Dasarathi’s funeral was attended by numerous people from his office. They all praised how he used to have all official figures and statistics at his fingertips. He never used to boast about the name he had in his office and we all came to know how great he was at his job only after he passed away!

Love you Dasarathi and still miss you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Festival South India: Thiru Onam

Today is Onam – One of the most important festivals of Kerala

Onam meant only snake boat race about which I came to know from my school books. I found it quite fascinating, but yet to witness one in person!

Slowly I came to know the story of Mahabali Chakravarthy visiting his citizens and the people of Kerala greeting him with pomp and splendour for ten days in the Chinga month (Aavani in Tamil – August 17-September 16) culminating with the Tiruvonam day.
Nowadays I associate Onam with the special Atha Pookalams and of course the delicious Ona Sadhya!

I woke up this morning to find lovely pookalams in our colony and would like to share it with you

A kathakali face being done by the kids in our block

As for Ona Sadhya, thank you Indu for the delicious paal aada pradhaman!

A very Happy Onam to all!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Hridyaaleeswarar Temple

Tirunindravur Hridyaaleeswarar Temple

The next temple we visited was Hridyaaleeswarar Temple. Both the Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple and Hridyaaleeswarar Temple are about 1500 years old. In those days the kings built temples for both Sivan and Vishnu nearby.

The legend of Hridyaaleeswarar temple is that Poosalar Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanars wished to build a temple for Lord Shiva. As he did not have funds to build a temple, he built a temple in his heart for Lord Shiva. It was not a rough structure, but a detailed one, covering all aspects of a Sivan temple. He also fixed a date for the kumbabishekam of the temple. Pallava king Rajasimha had built a temple for Lord Shiva in Kanchipuram during this time and he fixed a date for kumbabishekam which happened to be the same day as the Poosalar’s heart temple’s kumbabishekam day. On the earlier night, Lord Shiva came in the king’s dream to tell him that he cannot come for his temple kumbabishekam as he has to be present for Poosalar’s temple kumbabishekam. The king went in search of Poosalar and was shocked to find that Poosalar had built a temple in his heart for the Lord. He got a detailed description of the heart temple from Poosalar and built a temple accordingly. This temple is the Hridyaaleeswarar temple – Hridya meaning heart. To this day people pray here for cure for their heart ailments. This is again a huge temple.

As soon as we entered we prayed to Lakshmi Ganapathy and then proceeded to Lord Shiva’s sannidhi. This temple was fairly crowded, but most of the crowd seemed to be part of a group that had come for some film shooting. The imposing dwajasthambam was there with Nandi in front of it facing the Lord.

Sivan sannidhi was more like a hall with a couple steps leading to the Lord’s sannidhi and with Ambal on our right side. We first went to the Lord’s sannidhi and prayed there. Lingam is a fair size, neither too big, nor too small. Poosalar Nayanar was sitting in front of his Lord in the form of a statue. We prayed to the Hridyaaleeswarar to take care of any heart ailments and then got down to go to Ambal Sannidhi. Ambal alangaram was minimal but she was looking very beautiful in a nine yards sari. The name of the Goddess is Maragathaambigai.

Towards right side of the Siva Linga is the Navagraha sannidhi. We did a few pradakishnams around the nine planets. Just in front of the Navagraha, we could see a statue of Rajasimha, the Pallava king who built this temple for Poosalar. The ceiling of the inner prakaram was a visual treat with very beautiful paintings.

Directly behind Hridayaaleeswarar sannidhi on the left side was Ganapathi and on the right side was Murugan with Valli Deivanai. We also saw the idols of 63 Nayanmars and of course Natarajar and Sivagami Ammai. As we completed the pradakshinam, Bhairavar was on the left corner and on two sides of the entrance door were Chandran and Suryan. We came out to do a pradakshinam of the outer prakaram which was an open space. As we completed the pradakshinam we understood that the inner prakaram - the hall were all the above sannidhis were was in the form of Gajaprishtam – back of an elephant in sitting posture. Satisfied with the darshan we had, we proceeded to have a breakfast break at our friend Bhavani’s place.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Bhaktavatsala Perumal

Tirunindravur Bhaktavatsala Perumal

This blog is on the first temple we visited during our short pilgrimage.

Our first visit was to Tirunindravur Bhaktavatsala Perumal temple. After leaving home by 620 am we reached the temple in 40 minutes time. The whole town of Tirunindravur was a bit sleepy and though the main temple was already open, the sannidhis were just being opened then. The gopuram is an imposing structure with a mandapam in front of it where a few ladies were selling flowers and thulasi.

One of the Bhattars suggested that we go to the Thaayar sannidhi first as it is good to pray there first in Thiru Nindra Voor and then at Perumal sannidhi. We were made to walk up and down the sannidhis for a few minutes after which we divided ourselves into two groups and one was at Perumal sannidhi and the other at Thaayar sannidhi. I happened to be in the second group at Thaayar sannidhi. The Bhattar was kind enough to give us some details about the temple. Mahalakshmi was doing penance in this place. Samudraraja and Varuna searched her all over the world and found her here. Very happy to finally find her, they called her “Ennai Petra Thaayar” (Mother) and hence the name of the Goddess is Ennai Petra Thaayar. She is also known as Sri Sudha Valli. Thaayar was looking beautiful.

There was an oonjal hanging in front of the sannidhi which must have been used for the Aadi Pooram festival that had taken place a few days earlier. We then proceeded to Perumal sannidhi. Perumal is such a huge deity about 10 feet tall with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi on either side. The Urchavar is called Patradhi Perumal. Bhaktavatsala Perumal looked so majestic with the fresh alangaram and we had a good darshan.

Behind Perumal’s sannidhi, there is Chakrathaazhvar and Aadhiseshan sannidhi on either side. On the other side of Perumal’s sannidhi is Andal sannidhi. Unfortunately, it was closed as the Bhattars had not yet completed their poojas to Perumal and Thaayar.

As we completed the pradakshinam, we could see Yoga Narasimhar on the left side.

During our pradakshinam, a lady lighting lamp at the temple told us not to miss the pinnazhagu of Thaayar – behind Thaayar’s sannidhi, exactly behind the deity; there was a marking on the stone wall depicting the structure of the Goddess right from the crown to her folded legs. It was very nice of that lady to show us this as we would not have noticed this without her information.

We did our namaskarams in front of the huge dwajasthambam and proceeded to the Anjaneyar sannidhi on the road opposite the temple.

Here again the sannidhi was closed, but we could see the Anjaneyar through the grill doors in his usual handfolded posture facing the Perumal.

We prayed to the Anjaneyar and left for the Sivan temple in Tirunindravur.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sabai (சபை) Ladies Club

Sabai Ladies Club - First meeting

We, the wives of the KK Nagar Sabhai guys decided to party alone as only our men have been enjoying all along! The guys have been neighbourhood friends from their school/college days and we ladies came to know each other only after getting married to our respective guys. The ladies usually get to meet each other only during any function at one of the friends’ places and maybe at the kids’ schools.

The first step was to have a lunch party at one of our houses. This happened last Sunday.

A van was arranged and all the ladies and kids were picked up from their respective homes. We were about nine adults and children. Lunch was ordered from a caterer along with many goodies. The party started with a cake cutting.

The kids had a great time playing. The ladies basically sat around and relaxed, chatting about everything under the Sun including movies, cookery, various schools and education system, problems we face in the family and of course our men! Lunch was nice with a sweet and ice-cream thrown in.

              Post lunch the kutti kids slept for a while and the big ones continued playing. We continued our chat and finally winded up after tea.

                 All in all it was good fun and we hope to have more such interactions in the future with or without our men!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eventful Saturday - A short pilgrimage

Short Pilgrimage

On 14 August, we had a short pilgrimage - half a day trip to temples in Thiruvallur and Tirunindravur from our colony. It was a very nice trip with a small group of people who were very cooperative and cheerful all through the trip which is most important for such group trips.

We covered six temples in total, two in Thiruninravur, one in Putlur, one in Kaklur and two in Thiruvallur. Details of the temples in the coming blogs!

We started at 6.20 am in the morning and were back home by 2.00 pm for lunch.  Our friend Bhavani was so nice to accomodate all of us in her house in Thirunindravur and let us have our breakfast and coffee there which we had prepared from home and carried with us in the van.

The weather was fairly pleasant which was an added advantage. All in all it was a great trip as everyone enjoyed it.
Hope to have more such trips in future!

Friday, August 13, 2010

TV Programme - Bharathathil Dharmam - III

One more episode of Bharathathil Dharmam

For anything to be successful, teamwork is important, and in the team, each and every member’s part is of significance irrespective of whether he does the most menial task or the final execution. This was the teaching in Bharathathil Dharmam on 11 August

As usual the example given by Sri Velukkudi Krishnan was very endearing

Vanara sena is building bridge across the Indian Ocean to reach Lanka. The monkeys as groups of fours carry huge boulders and drop them in the water. The squirrels wish to do the cementing job and they drench themselves in the sea, run to the shore, roll on the sand so that a good quantity of sand sticks to their bodies and then come and use the sand to cement the boulders. Rama is watching this. In between, the squirrels try to order the monkeys around to work faster. Hanuman sees this and asks the squirrels why they are ordering around on top of coming in the way when monkeys are working busily. One squirrel boldly replies, “yes we are the ones to order as we are the masons doing cement work and the monkeys are the labourers carrying boulders”. Hanuman sees the squirrel’s dedication and says, Rama karya will be done very easily with such help

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food for thought!

 The scene I witnessed in the suburban train today, forced me to write this!

Two young college girls were travelling and one of them opened her lunch box. This was at 6.10 pm in the evening. As she opened her box, she was telling her friend that her mother had called in the afternoon on her mobile to enquire if she had her lunch and now if the box is not empty, she may get angry, so let us share the lunch. One must see the size of the lunch box to believe, it was just one of those disposable subzi dubbas provided by the hotels for parcel food and she was sharing it with her friend that too after skipping lunch. The food in the dubba was even more shocking, it was maggi noodles and I don’t think that any vegetable other than onions was added to it. Noodles is something that is to be eaten fresh and warm and not 10-12 hours after cooking it! Also is it a staple, nourishing food for a girl going to college, obviously travelling quite a distance? Of course, parents are not to be blamed fully, because many children refuse to eat proper nourishing food but prefer junk food, easily available and so tempting. It is very important for growing kids, especially girls, to have proper food. It was so very upsetting to see the above!

I remember that when we were kids, our Paati used to scare us that we will get all sorts of diseases if we eat the stuff being sold near our school gate. Also she made sure we had proper meals always and we were allowed to indulge in junk food only occasionally. Are Paatis not around for kids nowadays to ensure that they eat properly, I wonder!