Landed in Tiruvannamalai on 6th, Sivaratri, evening.
All world seemed to be withdrawing from the outer to the inner.
Like a blackhole in the heart of the universe, the Arunachala hill, the endless column of Self-Radiance, seemed to be slowly absorbing all physical light of the gross world outside.
Here’s a picture.
It was a special night, the long dark night of Siva.
Outside the old hall at Sri Ramanashramam, a peacock stood on a parapet wall, looking so pretty in the backdrop of the green foliage.
Sivaratri worship is done four times that night. The first pooja was at 6:30 or so, and I witnessed that.
Then, I visited the Aadi Annamalai temple, the ‘earlier’ temple of Arunachaleshwara, in the foothills of Arunachala. This is on the the other side of the hill, with respect to the great Arunachaleshwara temple that is in the city. Typical village temple atmosphere. Not very crowded. Steady, non-hurried stream of pilgrims. Prasadam being distributed. Families sitting in the courtyard, eating. I had good Darshan of Arunachaleshwara, and his consort Apitakuchamba.
Came back to Ramanashram to witness the second Pooja at 10 pm.
Vedapatashala students were chanting Sri Rudram, in Ghanam.
Heres a picture of Ramaneshwara Mahalinga shrine, with the students and teacher sitting in front.
I watched the worship and stayed on for the third round of Pooja that was there around midnight. Thereafter, I left with a group of pilgrims, for Girivalam (Giripradakshina – walking around Arunachala hill). We left around midnight. Lots of men, women, children were doing girivalam. The atmosphere was very special. My group consisted of an Indian American and his American wife. An NRI who was with an NGO doing some developmental work with tribals in forests in Western India. JJ, a friend, who brought along his Ektaaraa, one stringed music instrument. And Ram, an elderly Indian from Chicago. JJ and I walked in step, and he chanted some of Ramana’s tamil poems. He is very good in chanting. I chanted some suktams. Then we regrouped, and I walked with Ram. And then somewhere along the way, Ram and I broke away from the rest. He told me that he’s been coming every year to Ramanshramam, since 1989. This is the first time he is here for Sivaratri. We talked about the Hill, and Ramana. He said that he knows in his bones that this is no ordinary hill. “Twenty years ago, if someone had told me what I just now said, I would have laughed” he said. He told me of some special experiences he had.
We got back to the Ashram at around 4:30 am. In time for the final round of Pooja.
Heres a picture of Abhisheka at that time.
The worship concluded at around 6 am. Before the concluding Arati, an Oduvar sang Tevaram hymns. Peace.
namaccivAya vAazhga nAdhan thAL vAzhga
imaippozhudhum en nenjjil nInggAdhAn thAL vAzhga