(This post was partly inspired by a frank talk I had with a fellow blogger Sowmya who cross examined me on the frequency of my temple visits, the fact that I seem to be a Bhakthi-palam (divine fruit) and why my Saturday evenings sucks…Sowmya blogs here: http://myspace-ss.blogspot.in)
Every Friday, I dread the sound of the paper man throwing the morning papers outside our door…I always make up my mind on Thursday night to wake up early and hit the papers before my dad gets to them..but somehow every Friday I oversleep a bit…weekend advance warning? And my dad picks up all the rolled up and eposited stuff outside the door. Now don’t get me wrong..i am not all that interested in early morning bad news bleating from the front pages, but the reason I would look forward to picking up the papers is the associated magazines deposited with it. Especially things that go by the names of Bhakthi Vikatan and Sakthi vikaten..not that I have anything against religion. It’s just that these magazines have the temple of the week specials written by people who get paid to do os, offering all kinds of Parikarams for all problems and if my mom happens to chance upon one which says “This god/goddess helps in marriage” I am finished. My mom is immediately after my case- wanting me to take the Saturday off – so that we can go visit that temple to pray for my marriage. There used to be a time when I happily took Saturday’s off to go and party with friends and now I am taking them off to go visit temples. How the mighty fall? You Ozymandias….
Anyway this Saturday my mother buttonholed me into absolutely taking a trip to the temple mentioned on this week’s Bhakthi Vikatan…The Subramaniyar Temple at Vallakotai near Sriperumbudur in Chennai. We started that evening and after stopping for the mandatory coffee break along the way we reached the temple around 6pm. All the way along in the car the conversation in the back (I was sitting in the front with the driver) between my dad and mom was very interesting. They were alternately blaming each other’s long-dead ancestors for the delay in my marriage and it was fun to speculate who was the black sheep? Anyway after tiring of this blame game after sometime and as I was sure they would, my dad deftly turned the spotlight on me…”Every time he goes and talks to a girl…opens his mouth to one..It’s over. Why can’t he learn how to talk to girls like others do?” now this was a very valid question from my parent from his point of view. Look at me from my point of view. Isn’t it better to speak my mind clearly and clarify things beforehand frankly before absolutely committing oneself and then regretting later? Divorces are so messy nowadays, so prevention is better than cure. And it’s not as if I alone am open to blame- half the responsibility goes to the girls too..
There was the one who asked me for my TOEFL score….she was halfway through applying for an American university, it seems and wanted me to apply and emigrate along with her. I could only sneer superciliously and say “Toefl’s for Rapidex 30-day English learners, I took the IELTS- the real test for propah English speakers and got a perfect score on it”..she turned me down because with my IELTS score I can only go to second rate countries like Britain and Australia(her words, not mine) and can’t go to us..anyway she was already advanced in the application process (unknown to her anxious parents who were trying to get her married off) and there was no way I was compatible to her without a TOEFL score/result and this sad fact was duly communicated to my parents without the reasons being explained in detail…a wise decision on my part, as I would then be forced by my dad to write each and every exam that gets advertised on the papers as who knows, some stupid girl, somewhere might ask for it as an essential qualification to marry her.
The next one I remember most vividly. She was the one who looked as tall as a supermodel and when we adjourned for the mandatory 5 mins of private talk she first proved that she was a real supermodel- by opening her mouth to show me what an inane, itsy-bitsy thing her intellect was and then veering around to the one thing which she in her opinion considered important “do you feel bad (or was it sad?) that I am taller than you?” …I politely, err maybe not….told her “do you feel bad that I am so much taller than you intellectually?” (and left out the stupid cow part)…when she finally understood this crack of mine…after referring to various dictionaries I suppose…they called my dad and told him the alliance is off. What can I do? I hate not giving back these comebacks…as good as I get…and I just can’t bite my tongue and let an insult go unnoticed.
Well, to get back to my travelogue..by this time we had reached the temple premises and we entered the temple proper. The first god to worship as you enter any temple is my namesake Ganesha, the destroyer of obstacles. When you take a left from the entrance you reach the small shrine of Lord Gnana Ganapathi or the Wisdom giving god…after worshipping there you next proceed (or atleast I did) straight to the shrine of the goddess, Thirupura Sundari to worship her. This is not the usual practice at hindu temples- for the goddess to be worshipped before the primary or Garbha Griha deity…but by some quirk of fate, that day the temple was undergoing some sort of renovation and was partially cordoned off and the crowds diverted through the route just mentioned. Anyway after worshipping the Mother Goddess Thirupura Sundari, we proceeded next to the main sanctum sanctorum of the god – Vallakotai Deva Sena Murugar -the Deva Senapati- in his divine married man avatar, Valli Deva Sena Murugar, and who gives darshan to his devotees with both his wives- Goddesses Valli and Deivayani beside him (safely on either side)..I was ordered by my mom to pray to him hard for an early end to my marriage search and I couldn’t help but ask him to help me be the way he himself was….uh….two for the price of one?..Jus’ kidding. Anyway after worshipping there we started to perambulate the temple only to stop at the mandapam offering free prasadam. The prasadam that day was the odd combination of Sakkarai Pongal and Puliyodharai- maybe to impart the lesson that sour and sweet go together in life?
After the sweet pongal, the stomachs and tempers automatically cooled and we made the journey back in silence. The ordeal is over, I thought, until another Friday rolls around and another of those books comes into our house again. I guess my mom won’t stop till either we have covered all the temples of Tamil Nadu or I get married, whichever happens first. So what do you think? Is the Vallakotai Murugan Temple on your visit radar?
(P.S.the pictures may be a little hazy, because I was shooting with a mobile camera and my mother was constantly warning me that Sami will Kannai Kuthidum- poke my eyes for shooting the Sanctum Sanctorum….)