Monday, June 16, 2008

Sojourn in Tiruchirapalli.

The morning after the auditions was the time I had set aside to visit the temples around the area. The last time that we had been in Trichy for the Vasan Eye Care show, we visited Srirangam. For the first time. The wait was excruciatingly long but completely worth it.
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 forget the name now, Uthamarkovil, which has the moorthi-s of Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. I was said its the only one of its kind. I went in to see Narayana, then requested the pandit to open Brahma's sannadhi. Only, I waited in vain to see Bhikshaadanaeshwarar. The priest apaprently walks in only at 8'o clock and I did not have the time. Heading to Samayapuram, the whole energy and outlook of the people there has a stark difference to the other temples that I visited. There is a lot more fervour, to say the least. I saw a few people lying down on the ground with lamps placed on their heads or hands. I headed inside, went to see the Goddess, stood there sang for a while, and came around to see some member of the Vijay TV crew there. I waved out and waited for them. That was when the priest called me again and asked me to sing some more. I was asked to go inside and I sat there looking at the Goddess and sang to my heart's content. That is one thing mom taught me. I might be singing at 100,000 places but she always told me that it was necessary to sing at the temples. At first it was tough for me to let go of feeling delicate. I would hardly open my mouth and mom would sing throwing me the occasional glare for not obeying. Now, I have almost never left a temple without singing there. And especially in very old temples, the way your voice comes back to you, the sound of it is amazing. Then all of left together and the Director of Photography, Meena Sir, as we call him, (as I am typing this, I realize I have never really gotten to know his full name), had headed the team of 4 to the temple, asked me why not go to Thiruvaanaikaaval. I would have forgotten if not for him. I still had a lot of time. So we headed there and saw Shanti first. Shanti is the Elephant gifted by Sri Shivaji Ganeshan to the temple. Shanti seems to have cataract on her right eye though. We headed inside and after finishing darshan, we headed out, when the gentleman taking care of Shanti called out to us and invited us to his home which was almost inside the temple premises. That was when he told us a lot of things.. Like Shanti is now 52 years old. The mahout told us that, Sri Shivaji would inform in advance that he was visiting and the elephant would be taken to him. As soon as he saw her, the world and everything in it would cease to exist. He would completely devote his time to Shanti.The mahout wakes Shanti at about 5 AM and she is bathed and brushed for about an hour and a half. She is then taken inside the temple. He also said that the elephant is well cared for because the temple takes responsibility. She is fed on time, and well. Private ownership means, according to him, a lot of times the elephant is not fed on time. We would have had almost about 20 minutes with Shanti during which I kept patting her trunk. I loved those moment. If only it were possible, if not for the size and all the other trappings, I would love to have an elephant with me. There is so much of reciprocation of love from the elephant that it can be quite unsettling. But then, this is a personal experience. Ever since I was a child, whenever I have looked for divine help, when things seemed at crossroads, an elephant would materialize from nowhere.
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.


Anonymous said...

Nice! Thanks for sharing.


Vijey said...

Awake at this time ??

Was the same like you in my maths.. atlast got my Eng Deg after 8 attempts for one maths paper.. ha ha

I agree i really feel proud abt the country and the culture.

Nice post as well.

Vijey said...

Chinmayee... BTW what happened to your Pictures blog.. invites are available only to special ones ? :(

By any chance can i get access to it ?

if you dont want to post a public comment

this is my mail: vijeyashok (at)

Anonymous said...

Hey..Its Gunaseelam

Glad that you enjoyed Trichy. I spend 4 wonderful years there..

Hope all is well


Vijay Krishnan said...

Small pleasures will make Big impact sometimes. Reading this brief travellogue was nice. and i have seen first time a person boldly accepting their low marks. how nice.

Prem said...

I've noted that you have the talent of describing things as well as mingling it in a twist of colloquial lang., which makes things interesting.

Traveling brings about different memories in one's mind & it's a great way to meet diverse cultures in our country.

Keep blogging ...

முகுந்தன் said...

//I love being born in this wonderful country.
Mystic, mysterious. The Wonder That Is India.//

I always feel that. We are blessed :-))

பிரேம்குமார் said...

யானை வரும் பின்னே!
மணி ஓசை வரும் முன்னே!
சின்ன வயதில் படித்ததை
சின்மயி சொல்லும்போது
சிரிப்பாகவும் சிறப்பாகவும் இருக்கு!

நிறையாவும், நிறைவாகவும் எழுதியது
திருச்சியை பல ஆண்டுகளுக்கு பிறகு
உங்கள் வடிவத்தில் சுற்றிவந்த திருப்பி இருக்கிறது மனதில்....

ப்ரியா said...

//If only it were possible, if not for the size and all the other trappings, I would love to have an elephant with me.
Me too.
Nice blog.

jishu said...

hai akka,
Nice sharing of informations akka...Mentally affected teacher handling subject which is normally called as 'maths' was one of the hatable subject of mine.I have successfully jumped in one board exam with pretty digestable marks just 10 marks ahead of yours.I want to make a long jumbo jump once again this year.I have decided to travel in auto to get blessings from a elephant like u to make it for this year.
keep rocking..akka!
by ur fan

Vijay said...

Tiruchy & Thanjavur is always enchanting.

Went to Thirkadaiyur for my FIL's 60th wedding, nice place. It is the town that has a temple for Markandeyan (endrum 16). Have also visited Thirukarukavur. Stories of the temple are amazing.

For some reason, my family avoids Periya Koil at Thanjavur, for whatever jinx, as my dad made losses - heavy when we were in Kotagiri.

I used to wonder why my parents took us around during vacation to temples only... later realized, apart from Spirituality, there is sight seeing etc.

ThirUthirakoSamangai is one other place.


My share of life said...

That was a lovely blog article!
Keep going!!

Anonymous said...

Nice writeup. Haven't heard you sing a lot, but sounds like if you are even half as good as how you write, I better listen to your singing.

Next time, I come to India, I should make it a point to visit these Punya Kshetras.

Way to go, Chinmayee !!!

Lahari said...

Hi Chinmayi,

A small request, I am searching for OS Arun's version of Maha ganapathim. Its one of my favorite.I tried a lot to get it. If u happen to have that song can u post it somewhere in ur blog and if possible can u plz email me.If u happen to have and wish to pass on, I can give my email ID


Rathish saravanan said...

can i get access to see the pictures on ur blog..

Kalpana said...

Hi Chinmayee, Your English has a real flair. After reading I felt as though I visted all these temples personally. Hats-off to your narrating style.

Madhav said...

What about the food and the people down South Chinmayee? I am sure you would have noticed a difference compared to what we get to see in Chennai. When I traveled to Trichy and Thanjavur, I found both the food and the people to be very good. Food was very tasty and cheap while the waiters who served the food there were very kind and courteous.

The website lists quite a few temples in India. A the list for TN Temples is quite long as expected! Next time you travel, you may want to check out this site to figure out not only the famous temples but also the history about them.


Aswin said...

I love being born in this wonderful country.

I second that, I third that, I fourth that... No Place on or outside Earth like this glorious country.


(Soldier.. Wouldn't mention this name again. Hope u remember 'Aswin' ;P)

Aswin said...

Enabling comment follow up :) Forgot to do that previously


Anonymous said...

Hi Chinmayee

Its amazing to read your eloquent blogs.. i always tght celebrities to be of different plane.. but now, reading you blog, you are like one of my friends, sipping cofee and yapping in kitchenette!

Coming to topic, trichy was the best day of my life! amazing to see that it left quite an impact on you..


Naughty Devil said...

Nice one!! After reading this article, really started missing my trichy :( :(... Longing to go there, waiting for my next monthly trip.. :(