Saturday, September 25, 2004

Round and round I go around my Vadakkunnathan

A typical day at home for me starts with a visit to Vadakkunnathan early morning.

Its an old temple around which the whole town is built. The entire life in Trichur goes around in that circle around Vadakkunnanthan. More than that, it is also the mediator for the grand Thrissur Pooram, that is celebrated every year in the maidan of the temple.

A multitude of activities go on just outside the walls of the temple.....there's the Children's park, the ice cream vendors, the open air basket ball court, the perfect small circles of retired granndads playing rummy and 56, the local cricket matches, the small stage where the Prabashanams happen in the evening, the Vidyarthi corner where most of the political rallies end and where the prizes for the best school are given away after each procession, the exhibition that accompanies the Trichur pooram during summer, supposed-to-be teak trees, lots of lottery mongers..(remember distinctly a vendor called S. S. Maniyan, whose name I always read as Da Da Maniyan, because, in his car, the name was written in a peculiar way: the initials in English and the rest in Mallu, so I thought even the initals were written in mallu and was surprised that he has such different initals!!!!! Non-mallu people please excuse this, you wont understand.), and then the peanut vendors, working men and women taking shortcuts through the maidan to get to the other side, the homeless people sleeping beneath the trees, small kids (read Priya) riding a bicycle with balance wheels and feeling as if they have conquered the world, the watermelon vendors, the bookshop on wheels.......a busy world indeed! But inside the walls of the temple its amazingly different. Its an entirely different world.
Just a wall can make such a huge difference.

As a kid, I had been amazed at the folklore associated with the temple......the place where Lord Rama cut the rock with his bow and arrow so that his darling wife can quench her thirst, the blind God who won't know you are there unless you clap and make sure that he hears your prayer, the ritual of sacrificing a thread of your new dress to the God so that you get another new one soon (this i do even now :D ), KuttiKannan's small footprint on the stone path, the big and pretty Nandi, of course Vadkkkunnathan himself - the lingam covered under a huge mountain of ghee with Parvati just behind him, God Ganpati with a priest who looks just like him, tummywise ;), that special place behind Ram's temple where if you touch and make a SMALL wish it would definitely come true, The God who you should NOT look at after you have prayed to him once, the tunnel that starts right from the temple and supposedly ends at Kashi, the Vidyasila where all students write 'Harisreeganapataye namah' to get good marks and to be belssed with good handwriting, the 8 PM adachupuja that happens daily which if someone attends continously for 41 days any BIG wish would come true (too bad I can't do that!!), the huge koothambalam which I have seen from inside only once, the typical Gosala around Lord krishna, the small statue of Siva with Ganga flowing continously from his hairknot and many more which I seem to have forgotten. (Need to get it refreshed from my paatti.)

These are the things that either someone told me or I read from some books about the temple. The more I heard the more I was curious and proud of the temple that was just a stone's throw away from my house. But sadly, now the innoncence that once treasured these stories as world's secrets has been replaced by what is called commonsense, these things dont give me that Aha effect anymore. :(

Neverthless, I am still proud of each one of them. I still feel that since the temple is so close to my house and since I am a regular vistor there, I am sure to have some connection with it right? :) Of course I have been a very enthusiastic guide showing around the temple to all my cousins and friends who showed interest and not missing a single story in my narrations. I even coaxed a christian friend of mine to see the amazing place. Well, I did go to her favourite church in return though. :P

Some more things that I love about this place...........

The secluded place devoted to snake gods. I never used to pray there or go near that place. I had a notion that if I prayed there, the snake gods would get too friendly with me and follow me to my house. Now that wouldn't be very desirable right?

The stone cut path, which is a pleasure to walk on barefoot. I have done dozens of pradikhsanams around the temple on that path as a Thank-you-gift to the Gods when my SMALL and BIG wishes came true.

Those old old grandfather trees spreading out all over the place, all of them looking so wise and majestic.

And then there's the pavizhamalli tree, whose sweet-smelling-oh-so-fragile flowers decorate a part of the stone cut pathways throughout the year.

Light tingling sounds from the bells adorning the necks of the dozen cows grazing all the time around the temple and minding their own business.

And the amazing Sweet-PureGhee-Neyyappams that melt in your mouth that are distributed after the 8 PM puja.

The cleanliness maintained inside the temple is just perfect. Reminds me...when I was in 1st or 2nd, someone told me that if a kid does susu in the temple, its quite a big issue, everything comes to a standstill and they have to clean the whole temple with special holy water. This stuck to my mind and whenever I went there, I had this amazing urge to pee....just to see whether people would actually come running with buckets full of holy water and stop all the processes.......just because of me. I would be famous!!!! (another one of those things, that just exists as a thought in my mind. Never dared to do it!)

I could go on and on about this temple.................


Today when I was walking around in that temple, lost in thoughts, was wondering how much that place had influenced me. I must have first gone to the temple when I was in kindergarten; a small tubby girl in a pinnafore, holding someone's hand, not even aware of what a temple was.

After that during school years, it was the usual visit just before the annual results to make sure that Vadakkunnathan remembers me when he gives out those marks ;)
Did that till 10th!

After that I started going alone to the temple.....more to have some time alone rather than to pray. What I like the most about the place is the peace and quiet and that too right in the middle of the town. There's something in the air in there that soothes you the moment you enter those huge gates that even elephants can pass through. Have had some amazing conversations with myself and my namesake and good friend PriyaNair inside those walls.

Like I said before, when I was in school I used to go to the temple to submit my wishes 'formally' or to say thank you for the wishes that came true, but later it was a nice place to walk in a beautiful evening, and then it became a place to go to when something troubled my mind, a place where I always used to feel taken care of......I won't say I am a strong believer of temples and diety worship but neither am an athiest, hanging somewhere in between. The trips to the temple have been more like visiting a good friend rather than visiting God.

And of course during my teenage years it was another place to meet cute guys......all of them walking around shirtless ;)

In between all this I became strongly attached to this place. My friends were shocked to see me crying when I heard about the demise of a young priest of that temple. I used to see him at Krishna's temple everyday...a small boy near his twenties. He had climbed the Chembakam tree to pluck flowers for the God...slipped and fell down and was gone forever. This was the first death that affected me so much. That too someone who I have never spoken to, who may have never even known about me, such a silly girl. A person who I used to see everyday suddenly diappeared from my life. That was very diffuclt to accept. For me, he was a part of the temple and with his death, I felt that the temple is less sacred!!!! Can't explain why I felt that way, but then some things make more sense when they dont have to be explained.

The next incident that hurt me equally was the time when a famous Peepal tree inside the temple uprooted during the monsoon. I was in Wipro at that time, and this time too the tears were hard to control.
I feel silly getting so emotional about a place and a tree....but then sometimes its better to let things be rather than trying to control them.


There are quite a few more famous temples in Trichur like Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady, but none of them have the aura that is there in Vadkkunnathan. They look like commericialised temples with marble floors and all. They dont mean anything to me. But I feel really bad if I come home and do not visit Vadakkunnathan atleast once. But then wherever I go I take a part of it along with me.

Why do I go to this temple these days?
For peace, for strength and to try to retain at least a little bit of that lost innocence.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fabulus post.........waq your best......still prefur temples of mathura :)

Kraz Arkin said...

Hey GWBE,

this is definitely the best post to date. the truth of emotions and the memoreis seem to flow. a few minor points :
- what abt the stone in the small enclosure at the entrance, which they say grows. and one day it will grow so tall and touch the sky, that day kaliyuga will end.
- and the place where u leave a stone to mark attendance
- the fact that the idol of ghee never melts and never spoils
- and many other legends...
a few points i didnt agree with:

- yet to see a basketball court in the Thekkinkaad maidan, maybe u were thinking abt the indoor stadium? or maybe i'm just bad at noticing things
- and thiruvambady has an aura of its own, but then I wouldnt expect a Vadakkunnathan person to understand that. lol

Keep writing I say, when you are not reading Savis books.

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Hi Kraz,

thanks for pointing out the things i missed out. adding a lil bit more to it....

- what abt the stone in the small enclosure at the entrance, which they say grows. and one day it will grow so tall and touch the sky, that day kaliyuga will end.i had heard a diff story about the stone. my granny used to say that if someone can touch the stone, standing outside the enclosure, that would be the end of this world. I had tried my best to touch the stone so many times so that I wont have to go to school anymore.
But I dont want to touch it now :P

- and the place where u leave a stone to mark attendancethats the same place where the tunnel to kasi begins. It is said that you keep the stone there symbolising yourself (or to mark the attendance) in Kasi.

- the fact that the idol of ghee never melts and never spoilstrue. but then the mountain breaks whenever there's a catastrophe to thrissur.

- and many other legends...:)

and hey there Is a basketball court in the thekkinkaadu, its right opposite to the entrance to shoranur road. check it out next time you are home!

you too member of Savi's? :D
Did i write about it?......i dont think so!
Used to be an extra-frequent member there during my HardyBoys-NancyDrew-SidneySheldon phase.
Havent gone there in a long time though!

VKM said...

i tried my best to resist posting comments on a lot of your other postings, but this one just wouldn't go away from my heart.
Priya, its written very beautifully and i could really feel that u had a connection with the temple. Being an ardent temple guy myself, it was so nice to read about you describing all those familiar (to be quite honest, most of them were new even though i am a resident of thrissur. me regular with paramekkavu and thiruvambadi) spots et al.
Keep writing and i will keep reading.

VKM said...

i tried my best to resist posting comments on a lot of your other postings, but this one just wouldn't go away from my heart.
Priya, its written very beautifully and i could really feel that u had a connection with the temple. Being an ardent temple guy myself, it was so nice to read about you describing all those familiar (to be quite honest, most of them were new even though i am a resident of thrissur. me regular with paramekkavu and thiruvambadi) spots et al.
Keep writing and i will keep reading.

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Glad that you liked it.

And yes its one of the places in thrisuur that is very close to my heart.