Thaipoosam on Sunday, Jan 24, 2016-said this morning, my brother Vicha from Hyderabad.
My father used to go to Pazhani every year for Thaipoosam festival and he used to carry me too, when I was a child. The Meter gauge train from Olavakkode would be overcrowded with pilgrims coming from North Malabar and I remember being pushed into the compartment through the window openings once or twice.
At Pazhani, we used to stay in Aiyer Satram where father used to meet a number of his old friends. I remember well the kavadi Attam on the streets of the holy town in groups, by many devotees. I was told that some devotees come from distant places, dancing all the way up to the hill. one among them was Ramanatha Iyer of Koottalai village, an ardent devotee of Muruga. I have not seen my father dancing in the group but have heard him singing. He voice was metallic and tunes perfect. One song, I distinctly remember is ‘Patchai mayil vaahanane,Shiva Balasubramanianae Va—‘, which he used to sing extremely well.
There was a bajan book with him, a collection of selected songs on Subramaniaswamy.
Appa used to buy one big tin full of Panchamritham and another tin packed with Viboothi. The problem was to transport those through the jam-packed meter gauge train with small compartments . Once, I remember, he pushed the two tins one by one through the window opening, into the hands of Sankara Aiyer with a big belly at the Pollachi station, where a connection train was to be boarded. Standing on the platform, Sankara Iyer collected the two tins, yelling, ‘oh, oh’ as they were heavy. The third one to be thrown into his hands was myself and he received me with a sigh of relief, ‘oh, kanam illai- what a light weight!’ I remember well the pose of Aiyer projecting his uncovered big, black belly and extended hands with wide spread legs and his apt facial expressions, as if heavy loads of sand or granite stones were to be emptied onto his hands. That picture is vivid, but sorry to say, not the graceful face and pose of the Lord in the sanctum. I could hardly see the Lord and the full throated calls of ‘Muruga, Muruga’ from the devotees and equally loud sounds of ‘Poyya, Poyya from the Pandarams, were disturbing.
Near the sanctum, wild sounds should not overtake our subdued, silent heartbeats, when we are in the presence of God. As a child, I had that feeling which continues even now. That might be the reason, why during Ayyappa Poojas, I quietly leave the premises, when someone shakes his body and trembles and screams, which they say is under the influence of Ayyappa. I can’t imagine God entering a human body for a short while, shake it from top to toe and discarding like a used olapadakkam, country cracker.
Kavadiaattams, the measured steps of the bare chested, Viboothi coated devotees carrying colourful little Kavadies were enjoyable. The music went well along with that. During one Kavadiaattam, one old man missed his steps badly and others made fun of him.
I remember someone telling me that the old man, out of utter humiliation bent down and picked up a handful of mud from the ground. It turned into brown sugar which was distributed as Prasadam to others! I didn’t see that miracle then and haven’t ever afterwards during any of my trips.
Climbing up and down the steps too, I enjoyed. It was a real fun, which I recalled when, a few years ago, I struggled to truck the hills. The night view of the hills was pleasing.
May Lord Subramania bless us all and our families and friends with good health, happiness and peaceful life.