Monday, December 27, 2010

Mandala pooja at Lord Aiyappa temple, Anant Nagar

Vehicles are running on the road, spreading dust, making noise, with feeble sound of iron heard from the surroundings. The man wearing spectacles is cleaning the lamp that is among the others arranged in a row. Amma and Anjali are preparing the thread to place in the lamp. There are few women who are helping them in this work done as a part of devotion for the lord. The door has goddess Lakshmi emblazoned, and a huge kodimaram could be seen few feet in its front. I can feel the smell of roses that are decorated at the base of the lamps. We are at the Aiyappa swami temple in Anant nagar, Nagpur on occasion of Mandala pooja. Amma said that she wishes to stay a complete day in the temple and serve the god in helping others arrange for the Mandala pooja celebrations. I have dedicated 3 weeks for my parents and this day at temple is part of Amma's wish.

I saw my aunt, grandmother and uncle at the temple. It has been a year since we met and most of them have aged. This grandmother is the sister of my Grandfather (My Fathers Father) and she lives with her daughter in Nagpur. Women were sitting on the veranda and when we went towards them the grandmother asked a women sitting beside her to get up indicating my sister to sit. The woman’s face was worth watching. There were girls on one side of the temple. Nagpur’s new generation malayalees no longer resemble the south Indians and I can hardly compare them against any Keralite with most of them speaking broken Malayalam words. I bet I am not going to marry any girl here, and if there’s a choice why not to try a north Indian :)

The entrance to the temple has gone big, constructed 100 times higher than the highest man in India. It has three golden tomb shaped structures at the top that are gold plated. It is 4.30 pm and people started pouring oil into the small lamps around the temple. I also helped them and saw some women joining the group. I understand it is time to leave working and start managing. I started to help them understand how oil is to be poured and how the cotton should be placed ;)

We need to wait until 6.30 pm for the celebrations to begin. Amma says that people will start to enter after 5 pm but I expect no colorful miracles that could keep me engaged. (swamiye saranam aiyappa) :) I have never waited so long in temple and I do not believe that it is a women's job. Although it is no fun but it is ... Yes kind of boring, except the times when people are there. We managed the boring time with few cups of coffee to keep us awake. I am busy writing this article on my mobile while amma and others are placing the cotton inside the oil poured in the lamps.

By 6 Pm people started to come and soon the temple was open for the pooja. We joined the queue and were soon able to see the lord. By 6.30 Pm we left the temple for the home.

This day 12/27/2010, Monday was spent in Lord Aiyappa’s temple. “Swamiye sharanam aiyappa”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hitting hard on the Cerebellum – Finding hidden treasures

I was feeling cool air on the face and I gather the woolen sheet to cover my head. It is cold outside and to get up in the morning is like asking you to appear for history exam. Amma woke me up with a long thin stick, hitting me hard on the legs. I suddenly jumped from the bed and saw her pointing her finger towards the bathroom “go and get ready for the school”. I managed to fix my legs on the floor and walked towards the stand where my toothbrush was kept. Half sleeping, I applied the free flowing Colgate toothpaste on my shining teeth and begin to rotate the brush up and down like the advertisement on doordarshan. Amma placed the vessel with hot water and soon I was ready to comb my hairs. While I started to eat the breakfast, comes a sound “Abhilesh”…it was the “autowala bhaiya” who was shouting from outside. I can forgive the fact that he does not pronounce my name, but not for the breakfast that I had to leave on his call. He hanged by bag and basket on an iron hook attached to his auto where the other bags and lunch baskets were placed. Waving the hands to Amma and listening to her all time dialogues “bye, take care... may god bless you”, I sit at the back seat of the auto.

I was studying in Modern school located at civil lines, Nagpur and it took almost an hour for the auto to reach there. The auto driver was a wise man and he stuffed children like the vegetables in sandwich prepared by Hardik’s mother. We used to play antakshari and sing songs on the way. I can hardly remember everything but there used to be a lot of Auto’s gathered in front of the school. Our uniform was sky blue shirt and gray half pants with no tie like the American adopted schools. Students gathered on the school ground with the sound that came from the loud speaker. Then started the morning prayers and as it finished we moved to the classes.

I was always waiting for the lunch bells to ring so I could rush to the playground to play with friends. It was not an electric bell but an iron plate hit with a wooden stick. Children used to skate on the ground and some were busy skipping with their ropes. We used to hit each other with a ball where one had to hit others from a fixed position and the one who receives the ball continues. There were yoga periods where all gathered and it was all fun. I think it were on the Saturdays when we wore white shirt, white trousers and white canvas shoes. The principal was Neeru Kapai and I remember her broad signature on the blue mark sheets provided on parents teachers meet.

The sports day was nearing and we were taken to the ground for PT (Personal Training) with the left-right marching, headed by a girl/ boy holding flags representing four different house. I think I was in Ruby team and also participated in dance, running competitions. I remember we were taken to the ground and it was a one day event and my friend who was unable to stop his stomach irritations destroyed the pants and the ground. I don’t memorize his name but that incident often comes in mind.

There were two optional subjects, kathak and tabla and I opt for kathak with feet hitting hard on the ground “tha thi thai, thak thi thai”. I don’t know why I selected kathak, might be some of the friends were in the group. It has nothing to do with the girls ;)

I am at Nagpur for the vacations and happened to find the old school photograph hidden inside an album. I posted it on facebook and found a lot of friends who were with me when I was in fourth. Most of them are married and some have kids. It was great to see them all and I never thought it would be possible. Some of them resemble the old faces but most of them have changed a lot, tall, big physique.

The vacations would last until 31st and I think I could discover many nostalgic gems.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Storm entering Wayanad - Red Alert citizens

Note: Apologies to those whose messages were not answered and to them whose works were not appreciated. I was ill and could not be online.

A click on the black button, and it started singing. Further, an increase in the volume experienced when Gopu pressed the plus sign. There were shouts and taunts following the voices emitted from the speakers placed at the rear of the red-coloured Chevrolet Tavera. Yes, we were enjoying the trip to Wayanad, which will last three days. The vehicle was moving valiantly surpassing the miracles created by the experienced engineers of Kerala government. It was dark and music was the only option to keep us active and to talk non-stop. It was all fine until a finger waved splashing the expectations of the youth, and switching off the music system. These fingers were of Dileep who was of the opinion that he cannot concentrate on the road with music kept on for long drives. I looked angrily into his eyes and then gently forced my head to hit on the seat making me sleep as soon as possible.

Tavera on Wayanad Adventures

Slowly the light started to pierce the hairy protection in front of my eyes. It was 4 Am and we were at a petrol pump near to adivaram (the bottom of the hill leading to Wayanad). Gopu was driving the Car and he said that we would be reaching the top in less than an hour’s time. The path that leads to the top through the hills is called Thamarassery churam. Jinu says that a Tribal man who revealed it to the British discovered this path and they killed him so the credit goes to them. The soul of the tribal man caused problems to the passengers for many weeks until priests captured him in a tree. Passengers from then drop a coin in front of the tree to make their journey trouble free.

It was a day’s workout to list the important places in and outside wayanad. We prepared a plan to enjoy the tour.


1. Fresh at manathavadi
2. Tirunelli temple
3. Pakshipatalam
4. Beechanahalli dam
5. Manathavadi –Pazhassiraja
6. Kuruva island(will be skipped to Saturday if there is no time)
7. Jk – Muthangya stay( Jk arranged the stay inside the jungles)
8. Banasura sagar project


1. Kanthanpara waterfalls
2. Meenmutty waterfalls
3. Chetalayam waterfalls
4. Soochipara waterfalls
5. Karapuzha dam
6. Gopal sami petta to Mysore


If we decide to stay then:
1. Back from Mysore to pulpally kadu
2. Lakkidi

It was my third time in Wayanad and each time I enjoy the trip and get some tips for the next journey. We reached Vaithiri and headed towards Tirunelli temple as Jinu said that we would hire a room near the temple to be fresh for rest of the journey. This temple is located on a hilly region and it was not hard to find it. The streets towards the temple were filled with vehicles on either side.

We somehow managed to park our vehicle in front of a guest house.

Tirunelli temple has a small stream called “papanashini” which is believed to wash all the sins with a dip. We walked towards papanashini crossing the rocks on the way. It was a small stream with water as cool as in the fridge. According to belief, a dip has to be taken with the whole body and head inside the water. We imagined as to what could happen with a dip... my sixth sence said that it would not be a good decision to take a dip. After we take a dip, people would say “chalo... paap ke saath paapi bhi chal basa” (the sinner also died with his sins). We finally decided to do a smart work and sprinkled some water over us believing our sins are vanished or might be we will visit here next time when the water is hot. By that time, we might have accumulated plenty of sins and it would be a good experience leaving them in the stream provided the stream exists.

The entire plan was changed with multiple opinions and unnecessary assumptions. We then moved towards Kuruva Island and got the privilege to witness Deer, rabbits and wild buffaloes.

We missed track of the route and landed on Kerala Karnataka border. However, we managed to go back and reached Kuruva island. It was rainy season and the river was full with muddy water.

We had to cross a river to reach Kuruva Island. We wore the water suits and were ready to swim... but they were expecting us to move on the boat... so sad!

We crossed the river on an adventurous small boat being sailed by a man resembling Mamukoya (Mamukoya is a Malayalam comedian with his teeth competing mouth like rabbits).

(Mamukoya's clone)

We reached the island and started potraying for funny stills... hmm.. ok, I was the one who did them.

We took several group photos.

We then moved towards another ticket counter which depicted heavy amounts as entry charges. Again started assumptions and debate as there is nothing to watch ahead. We decided not to move inside and curse the Lord Indra for his Gifts before our arrival (According to Hindu mythology, Indra is the king of God’s and is believed to control rains).

Wayanad was full with rain water and the climate was not good to accommodate our expectations and plans. Rivers were seen flowing with dirty muddy water, even the small streams inside the jungles. Despite all these problems Wayanad and its beauty has no competitor.

We were badly hungry and went to manathavadi for the lunch. It is said to be the biggest hotel in Wayanad… I doubt. All have filled their stomach and were ready to have a good nap. We decided to skip the plans for today and go to Jinu’s house in Wayanad. It was located at a place called Nambiyarkunnu. The specialty of Jinu’s residence is that his house is situated in Tamil Nadu and the area from entrance until his house is in Kerala. We crossed the border gate to reach his house.

(Border gate to Jinu's house)

(Jinu's house in Wayanad)

We entered the house and it took no more than 5 minutes for all to start dreaming on bed. We woke up and were asked to move towards the dining hall. Jinu’s mother had prepared many non-veg and veg dishes and we were asked to puff our stomach with them. I had a similar experience when once we were taken to a chocolate factory from the school and were asked to collect as much as chocolates we would. Prasanth also lives nearby and we were asked to visit his house on the way. Meanwhile Jinu and his father brought a lot of vegetables grown in their farm that we could take home.

(Jinu and his family)

We reached Prasanth's house and Jk started searching for the plants he could carry home. He is fond of plant varieties and collects them from wherever he could.

Prasanth's mother helped Jk in collecting the plants.

On the next day we left for the forest and way to Gundalpetta. We stopped to see the surroundings and greenery. There were small rivers within the forest that were filled with muddy water. People travelling on the route stopped to see the flow of water inside the forest.

We reached gundalpetta and my companions had a cup of white colored coconut juice (a minute form of alcohol). We headed towards Gopal swami petta which was situated on the hill top. The journey was through a small village where people could only speak alien Kannada (a mixture of kannada, Malayalam and tamil.. that sounds like …no explanations for that). Jk was the only person to understand their language and he communicated with them through Malayalam twisting his tongue and gestures asking them the route. Someone also tried to use words like walee and engala polam... the ones heard in the Malayalam movie “taenmavin kombathu”. Jk tried and could understand some word named kovil,hingale, pinkala, manthala, naere… and he asked us to go straight.

On the way we saw a temple and stopped the vehicle to take few photographs. Children in the village gathered around us showing us their swings on the banyan tree. We also become children and tried several pranks.

(boy swinging on branch of banyan tree)

(All trying to imitate the boy)

We left the place and then started to move straight and the route took us inside fields.

(moving through the fields)

We continued the journey and finally reached a place where there was no route and the vehicle was jammed inside mud and clay. We were neither able to pull the vehicle ahead nor to reverse it. The final decision was to push the vehicle out of the mess. It was really adventurous and that was the instance I enjoyed the most. :)

A fellow traveler knew English and he asked us to go back and follow another route.

We reversed the vehicle and reached a temple gate from where another route begins. We hit the tip of the tube light and the words from the alien-language follower came into our memory “kovil”. So this was the kovil(in english Temple) from where we need to take a diversion.

We reached the hill top and were able to see the temple "Gopal sami peta". The temple is on a flat hill and you could view the entire village from the top… mostly looks like a miniature form of google earth.

We returned home after the visit to the temple. Though we could not visit most of the places and nothing was acording to the plan but we still enjoyed the trip.
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