This time however, things were different. I woke up at about 4:30 and I was out of the hotel by about 5. Bag and Baggage and all. Thought I would catch the flight directly from the last temple visit.
I contemplated skipping Srirangam but looks like Ranganatha decided to meet me. So almost on a last minute decision we went to catch the Vishwaroopa Darshan. Surprisingly we were in the area closest to the sanctum sanctorum within minutes. Thats when the friends I had been with told me that the elephant would trumpet heralding the darshan. In a while I heard the sound. Drums started beating and I heard bells in the distance which slowly grew closer. Then I saw the elephant. The way it sauntered in with the mahout (I guess) on top and there was also a kodam which was covered in red cloth. The elephant then majestically sat down to help the gentleman get down and head inside. Then the elephant was led inside, it happily climbed up the few stairs and came inside a very narrow pathway that was made with people on both sides to face the Lord. In the next few minutes, the horse and a cow were also led inside. During that time, the elephant kept flapping its ears and it seemed to me as if it were fanning the devotees. It then bent down and trumpeted again. That was when, with all the drama and grandeur, the only screen separating our vision of the Lord was whisked to the sides and He was finally visible with the nine lamps and the Deepaaraadhana happened. In no time, I would probably clock it at about 35 seconds the screens were drawn again and it was totally upto your destiny or luck, whatever you might want to call it, to see the Lord within those precious moments. The total time taken from the time of stepping in and stepping out was approximately 25 minutes and we were then on our way to Samayapuram. On the way, there was another temple,
I remember the time just before my 10th Board exams. Probably there will be another time, when I can delineate on this. It was a tough time because my Math was a huge problem. I doubted whether I would pass. And I would die of shame if I did not. That was also the time when my mother's waist-length hair got cut little by little, giving poo-mudi to different temples to such an extent, that she was left with almost a crew-cut, if I may say that. We were highly worried and were returning in an auto after getting my hall ticket. We lived in Thiruvanmiyur at that time. On our way home, an elephant came in our way, came and stood in front of the auto, not allowing it to move. It then pushed its trunk inside and blessed me. All this on the main road. The auto driver of course thought it was the end of the road for him. But We were exhilarated. I passed maths with a border-line 49 marks. Don't know how I managed to pass though.
Apparently at about 11:30 every morning, the priest would dress up as a woman, hold a lotus flower in his hand and go perform the Pooja for the Lord. And Shanti would accompany at that time as well. Aiteeham has it that in this temple, the Goddess performs the Pooja for the Lord Herself. Just a thought here, if a Lady is required to do the Pooja, what is the point in a man dressing up as a woman? How would that count as a Lady performing the Pooja? Anyway, several rules in the society are made by men, and this should have been one of them. To reduce the status of the woman in society. Apparently, in olden days, this was not the case. There were special women chosen to perform the Pooja on the Lord. Anyway this is hearsay. I just log it here.
I loved this trip as a whole. It has shifted and shuffled a few things within me. Metamorphosis is in action. Leading to what is the question.
Also Ucchi Pillaiyaar was one temple which kept avoiding me all this while. On Friday, when I landed there, I made it a point to visit the temple and then most of the Super Singer team followed after a little while. It was a quite a group of 11 which made its way up. We almost made it there when they were about to close. Once up, I loved the way Trichy sprawled all around the temple. And much to my delight, early next morning, the first shot was at Ucchi Pillaiyar. For not having gone there all these years, I went there twice on two consecutive days. I also had the opportunity to immerse my feet and frolic about in the Kaveri. Just a day before the dams were opened. When the Kaveri seemed to flow like a very big stream, but powerful enough to push you through. Also, I noticed that the winds at Trichy were very strong. Aadi winds as they called them. It was a pain while shooting though. And much to my dismay most of the time I had to stand in the direction the wind blew. Which meant hair flying all over my face and sticking to my lipstick and wotnot. Believe me, with warpaint on your face, you definitely don't want fly-in-your-face hair. Or winds that cause it.
I loved the time invested in getting to know my crew members better. There are times when you realize that no matter how long you would have known someone, there is always something else to know about them. There was a lot of laughter. A lot of joy in spite of the frantic, maniac almost inhuman schedules the crew of Vijay TV are working on. As far as I know, none of them have slept or eaten well in several months.
In all, I so totally loved rediscovering the people I know and rediscovering Trichy and I am sure that when I go back there, Trichy will show facets of itself that I had missed this time.
I love being born in this wonderful country.
Mystic, mysterious. The Wonder That Is India.