Visalakshi sametha Sree Viswanatha Swamy, the presiding deity of the prime temple of Kalpathy had already mounted His glamorous chariot in all glory, escorted by other divine family members , all in their own chariots, when I landed at the Kalpathy village during the recent annual car festival celebration.

I was witnessing that divine family union after a gap of three years and should have instantly, at the very sight of the celestial procession ready to take off, fallen on the ground like a stick, raising my hand and joining the palms in salutation and surrendered to the parents of universe, ‘jagatha pitara’, or at least raised my joined-palms to my chest. No such things, sadly happened. Instead, ( ashamed to say), I picked up my web camera from the pocket and took snaps of the chariots, from the front, from the back, from the sides, standing close by and keeping a comfortable distance!

What a shame! I quickly reflected on my faulty action the moment I held the thick coir rope to pull the chariot. I mused. Why do I need these pictures? All the local news papers have already front-paged lavish photographs of the chariots and I have my own collection of the previous years. Will these new pictures, when transferred to the computer screen, give the same spiritual enchantment the instant salutation and surrendering to the Supreme would have bestowed, to rekindle my spirit and soul? Definitely not. Then why did I indulge in that foolish act? In what way was my action different from the chatter and gossip of some women while standing before the sanctum of a temple awaiting the door to open for the sacred, scintillating deeparadhana service ? What right had I to scold my sister who, while worshiping at the Guruvayoor temple the other day, driven by unalloyed affection and consideration for me, diverted her attention to find a fault in the way I was wearing dothy?

I was becoming small and small, overburdened by self pity and was not in a position to pull the chariot. The celestial mount did not move an inch. I pressed my toes firmly on the ground, bent my back a bit to the front, used all energy and strength I could draw from within and pulled the chariot. No success. Now, I bent my body backward, stretched my hands simultaneously pressing the ground harder and pulled the chariot. Again, no success. The chariot did not move an inch!

I gave up. I am not fit to pull the divine vehicle. I am fit only to shoot a picture of it. I have never felt so helpless before.

Exasperated at my own folly and helplessness, I was about to leave my hold on the rope and quit, when I suddenly gained the strength of an elephant and thought for a moment that I was carrying on my shoulders the mighty ‘ulsavamoorthis’ the golden idols of the Lord and his consort on a mighty brass bull, mounted on a wooden platform supported by a pair of stout wooden rolls, as I used to do, along with other devotees, during my young days. My shoulders were strong then, my faith in the Almighty deep and I could give a helping shoulder to carry the Idols and mount the steps. Along with others, in full throat, I used to shout, ‘Kailasapathae!’
That sound used to reach the waters of the adjacent river and echo.

That echo, I could hear clearly, when I was standing helplessly, to pull the rope of the chariot. That was all!

Instantly, a cry came from the bottom of my heart, ‘Kailasapathey!’ That scream then echoed in the distant western hills after transgressing the voluminous waves of sound emanating from innumerable percussion instruments leading the procession and crossing the muddy waters of the Kalpathy river.

And, the chariot instantly moved with a jerk!

Dec 4, 20