tamaso maa jyotir gamaya – 1

I have been remiss in my blog posting of late…

The last few months have been pretty unnerving. The economic collapse in America has “melt-downed’ the whole world…. What seemed firm ground has now turned into global quicksand. Businesses everywhere look as if they have been suddenly possessed by some unseen ghosts…Locally, at Chennai, recent past has seen incessant rains. The city has taken a battering, drainage has not held, and life has been very challenging, to say the least… And then the whole country was shaken by the terrible tragedy at Mumbai… God…  Stop the world and let me off…

Time to take a break… To seek some light, in these dark times…

I call up an old friend, CV, and we decide to motor down to Tiruvannamalai a.k.a Arunachala – that abidance of Siva, as the endless column of light…

It is the sixth of December 2008, the month of Karthigai as per Tamizh calendar, a Saturday. And in Tiruvannamalai, it is festival time… The Karthigai festival is celebrated over ten days or so, and culminates in a grand finale – on the Karthigai Deepam day – when a great flame is lit on top of the Arunachala mountain… Karthigai Deepam – a festival that is so old, that we don’t quite know how old it is – a few thousand years, surely… A festival that finds mention in ancient sangam literature and tolkappiam…

The drive from Chennai to Tiruvannamalai is down the Airport road… You go past Tambaram, bypass Chengalpet, go past Madurantakam, Melmaruvathur, take a right off the highway and bypass Tindivanamam, go past the fort town of Gengee and reach Tiruvannamalai… A drive that takes three hours plus maybe half an hour. The roads are generally good, except for a few patches…

Somewhere along the way we cross a long bridge over the river Palar…. Once a perennial river, Palar has gone the way of Saraswati , and is now a dry river bed, it’s sands being excavated and sold to assuage  the endless appetite of the real-estate “economy”… … But this time around, I am pleasantly surprised to see large pools of water on the otherwise dry Palar… Must be the recent storm…

We stop for a coffee break at a small eatery in Acharupakkam…   CV is hungry and orders a Rava Masala Dosa. Not available… So he settles for an Adai, which is served with Avial (a multi-vegetable stew)… He likes the Adai.. Says that the vegetables in the stew were ‘muthal’ – overripe… The coffee is standard… Two coffees and an adai – the bill Rs 30/-. Not bad.

We had left Chennai at around 4 pm or so… By 6 pm, we are driving down towards Gengee… The sun has set, the road is narrow, and there are no road lights… Suddenly we hit a pothole on the road, and the car gets a nice slam on its chassis…

By around 7 pm or so, we enter Tiruvannamalai… There is a buzz in the atmosphere, and the city administrators are gearing up for the massive influx of pilgrims that will happen on the Deepam day. It will be quite comparable to the Kumbh Mela… Hundreds of thousands of people will arrive in Turuvannamalai for being a part of that great day… It is an experience that defies description… People from all walks of life, from India and overseas, come in to Tiruvannamalai, become bubbles of joy in a cauldron of some immense indescribable energy – a flame that is called the great Bharani Deepam…

But Deepam is still a few days away, on 11th of December, this year…

Today is 6th. We are at Sri Ramanashramam… Time is around 7:30 pm. The first batch of people have already gone for dinner… We join the second batch. Simple meal of vegetable biryani (with garam masala … I can never get used to that in the Ashram), sambar, curds…

An elder devotee tells us, quite excitedly, that tonight, the festival of Rishabha Vahanam is on…  The utsava-moorthy (processional idols) of Arunchala temple will go around town, with the main idols of Siva and his better half riding on Rishabha – Nandi, the bull… The procession will start tonight, and finish sometime tomorrow… Good time to catch the procession is around 3:30 am, she says… (did she say 3:30 am? Yes… that’s what she said!)

Good night…

— to be contd —

Tags: ,

One Response to “tamaso maa jyotir gamaya – 1”

  1. shival Says:

    Can’t wait to hear more about your trip to our beloved Arunachala and Ramana.

    Please please please..post the remaining part of the article ASAP.

    Thank you.🙂

Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: