Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thirukalyanam : Photos

 It is a grand Friday at Sri Kapali temple. A large number of people witnessed the Thirukalyanam - the wedding of Lord Kapali with goddess Karpagambal.
Here are a few photos.
Videos will be uploaded on Saturday.

Decorated Entrance of the temple

 People going in and coming out of the temple. Scene in front of the 16 pillar mantapam

Thousands witness the Thirukalyanam 

The Gods on procession after the wedding

Devotees distributing prasadam outside the temple

The procession on south Mada Street with the full moon in the background

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Arabathu-moovar Videos; 4 clips

We just posted 4 video clips of the Arabathu-moovar procession.

Posted in a hurry, please log on to -

Religion. Then cricket.

4.10 pm.

The procession enters  South Mada Street. And this street has a life of its own!
Not just because this is where every hardcore Mylaporean shops for vegetables and prays at Sri Velleswarar Temple . . .this provides hawkers, families and friends to congregate and wander at their own pace.

The food serving pandals are still going strong. The handis with fresh loads of rice and curd keep getting hauled at the counters. Sweating bodies go for cut water melons and butter-milk stalls.

The first of the Nayanmars reach the Mylapore Fund Office doors - it enables families who have just arrived at the fest zone to tarry along.
As the evening wears on, and the sun goes down thousands more will flock to R K Mutt Road and North Mada Streets. Just the time to enjoy the fest at its fullest.

It will also be the time when the Amman from the other side of Kutchery Road, Thiruvalluvar, also a neighbour and the other Gods will come by and join the procession.

Diehard Mylaporeans, having refreshed themselves take up position near the ther to expect this leg of the procession. . . .

It will be well past dusk today when the Lord and his faithful come back to their abode.
Then, cricket crazy fans will either head to Chepauk or sit in front of TV sets to catch the first IPL Season 5 match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

Expected to play for CSK is a young Mylaporean - Abhinav Mukund.

Religion and cricket . . . . .

<< We will soon post a few video clips of the arabathumoovar procession. Meanwhile, your comments on our daily coverage will help guide us, make us feel good >>

Arabathumoovar procession: photos

Photo captions:
- Hawkers on the Mada Veedhi
- Annadhanam
- A view of the temple tank
- Scene inside navarathri mantapam
- Karpagambal
- The procession
- Scene on East Mada Street
- Boy garlands photos of the founders of Mami's Mess on Pitchupillai Street

Scene on East Mada Street

3.45 pm
The festival has truly begun.
Now, even the small lanes around the temple are packed as people file into the mada veedhis.
Word is going out that the procession has begun. So, many families rush to the East Mada Street end.

From Tank Street, through Ponambala Vadyar Street and Pitchu Pillai Street ( where all the old tiled houses have given way to apartments this past year).

From a spot opposite Lady Sivaswamy Girls School, we take in the oncoming procession. One must admit that the young lads who carry the palaquins, dripping in sweat and red in their faces are efficient at keeping pace and order as they carry the saints.

Lots and lots of women stand behind barricades to offer prayer and watch quietly. Young mothers, kids on their shoulders patiently commentate on the procession. Early days to get introduced to Mylapore biggest festival. . . .

Procession of the Nayanmars . . .

3.05 pm.

By the time we make our way to the eastern side, the Lord has moved out, to the sound of bugles, horns and trumpets.
Seated at the 16-pillared mantapam in Sannidhi Square we get a distant glimpse of the rituals being performed here as the increasing crowd surges from all sides.

Inside, sits the elegant Karpagambal, all at peace as listless priests await their turn to move out. That happens quickly. And the crowd inside tries to follow the ther but with little luck as policemen keep them at bay.

We slip through the side gate and can only find space outside the shop selling puja articles on Ponnabala Vadyar Street. This is is a vantage spot to catch a glimpse of the procession of the Nayanmars. Out they come, in quick succession, hailed by the sound of the trumpets.

The fragrance of incense spreads through the air, swathes of devotees file in and slip out and the procession has truly begun now . . .

Lead-up to the procession . . .

2.45 pm. South Mada Street.
Water has been let into the tank of Sri Kapali Temple and there is a gentle breeze blowing across - it takes the heat off our faces.
Families walk down from all directions - from Dr Ranga Road and Venkateswara Agraharam, from R K Mutt Road, from Luz and beyond.

The queues never end at the stalls here which serve food and drink. The hawkers have set up shop along the tank side; this is the time to pick up kolam design makers, toys, handmade laddoos and the like.

We make a quick dash down the Tank Street and enter the temple from the western side. And we enter festival land.

Neatly lined up here are all the Nayanmars; dressed, decorated and at peace. There are small name boards to tell us who they are. At the far end is a palaquin of a trio - the women who hailed the Lord - Isaignaniyaar, Karaikkal Ammaiyar and Mangayarkkarasiyar.

This is perhaps the simplest yet striking assemblage on an afternoon of the grand arabathu-moovar procession.

Those in the know and veteran of many a Panguni fest here, file past the images here than get squashed in the surging crowded at the eastern temple gate . . .

Episode of Angampoombavai

The episode of Angampoombavai/Thirugnansambandar was enacted this morning at 11.30 a.m. at the  western side of the temple tank bank. Photos by V. Vasantha.

Mylapore wakes up for the big fest

Many community groups worked through the night in this neighbourhood. They had a job to do.
When we went home, much after the  IPL Cricket Season launch party at Nandanam YMCA grounds we could see groups of men and boys working under shamianas at street corners.

Annadhanam is an essential part of the grand arabathu-moovar festival that will be held today.
Groups of people pool money and resources and arrange for food and drink to be given free at corners of streets that lead to Sri Kapali Temple.

In the old days, these pandals must have refreshed the groups of devotees who headed to the Temple for the fest. They must have trudged all the way, or made it by bullock carts. Food and drink would have been a welcome refresher and it must have come from local residents.

That tradition continues. Pandals come up even in places like Adyar, Teynampet and Triplicane, once villages on the fringe of Mylapore.

This morning, as the sun went up the pandals began to offer butter milk, water and orange juice.
By noontime, the huge handis were opened and brinji, pulao, sambhar rice and curd rice was given.

Most pandals are run by autorickshaw drivers. They pool money and take turns to serve the drink or food. There were at least a dozen pandals we saw in the Alwarpet - R A Puram area.

People from afar will begin to descend in the temple zone by 1 p.m.
The rituals at the temple will start soon thereafter and the procession of the Nayanmars starts at about 3 pm.

We will post photos and on the spot reports this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Disappointed devotees . . . .

We wanted to know - why did the ther just run off on the mada veedhis today?
There was nobody ' official' to provide an answer.

Finally, just before noon we managed to get a line across the temple staff who was perched on the ther which had just taken a turn into West Mada Street ( R K Mutt Road).
"We have had no control on the volunteers, " he said. "They keep pulling the ther though we ask them to stop now and then."

The ther did slow down on R K Mutt Road later in the day. But the pace must have disappointed many, many devotees.

After all, many people time their visit to the processions and they follow old practises. Mylaporeans who have lived in the temple zone are aware of the timings of the processions and plan their visits accordingly.

Many people said that festival management has been lacking this year.

The ther seems to be moving fast!

8.15 am.
We are still on East Mada Street and it is half empty now.
And we get news that the ther is now rolling to the end of South Mada Street.

Why is the procession moving at such great pace?
Nobody seems to have an answer.

Over the past few years that we have witnessed and covered the Panguni Fest, the ther processsion is grand and slow, allowing people from different areas to gather around it and offer prayers.

The mada veedhis just don't seem to have character, colour and feel that makes a festival like this truly a festival.

A woman keeps singing over the audio system from where a medical emergency camp is based. It isn't musical. We missed the music that could have led the ther.

Two men, their shirts wet with sweat slip down at the medical camp. They are bruised in the arms and feet. "The road is uneven and the ther pullers are running too fast!", they tell us.

A policewoman who has been injured when the wheel of the chariot of Singaravelar ran over her is being treated at the camp. "Please do not burn camphor and keep it on the road, it is dangerous!", says the woman on the public audio system.

Hawkers grab the road side space here to set up shop - baby dresses, plastic flowers, chains and beads, malli-poo . .

Food has just arrived at the Vanniyar Sangam. Volunteers say a local Chettiar family observes a tradition of providing anandhanam to devotees.

More photos : At 8.05 a.m.

The ther procession begins . . .

There is a certain expectancy in the air around the ther.
As if everybody present would like it to make the first move.
That the ther begin to roll.
And then, to the roar and chant of ' Kapali! Kapali!!' and the wave of a green flag the chariot rolls out of the house and onto East Mada Street.

It halts suddenly, lets people make offerings and moves on again to the wave of the green flag.
The giant wheels roll at an angle, across the facade of Rasi Silks and slow down again.

A new set of devotees standing outside Sri Karpagambal Mess and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan get the opportunity to pray as the ther comes to a stop here.

Photos. 7.20 am

Preview: Procession of the great Ther

April 3, 7 am.
The mada veedhis are dirty, full of waste, paper and leftover food.
Private civic workers get to work in fits and starts to prepare the way for the procession of the ther.
How one wished there was far greater cleanliness here.

The sun is up and the chant of the odhuvar floats in the air that is still this morning.

Earlier this morning, at about 5.30 am the image of the Lord was taken up the stairs and to a mantap beside the tall ther tower. After a few rituals, the image was placed in the chariot.

Behind the ther, are a carriage of wooden blocks which will be used to slow and stop the rolling wheels of the ther. A army of volunteers in bright Tees are at the ready for the job.

Further behind are the chariots of Lord Murugan and of Chandikeswarar.

People file in to take position in front of the ther.

The quiet is broken by announcements over the public address system by volunteers of the Mylai Thamizh Sangam.

And then the singing of odhuvar Sargunanathar . . .

They are all waiting for the state minister to inaugurate the procession. . 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Video - Preparation for Ther

Here is a video of the ther being prepared. The workers here are fixing yali image to its side

- Contributed by V. Vasantha

Workers offer prayer before preparing for ther

Special pongal was prepared and offered to the Gods before inserting the vadam (rope) into the ther.

- Photo contributed by N.N.Srinivasan

Lord Kapali dances to popular numbers

April 2, Monday. It is 5.50 a.m. and the procession is about to enter the temple.
The Lord now gets into the dance mode before He goes back to the temple. The song being played is an English note and a popular folk note, Kundrathile Kumurankku Kondattam.
About 50 people are carrying the vahanam and swaying to the music. From afar, one can witness the dance of the Lord. Once the last song ends, the vahanam enters the temple and goes to the mantapa inside.
Devotees carrying the vahanam keep raisinng the Lord's name as they enter the temple. Many people follow them inside.

As soon as the vahanam reaches the temple, the image is disengaged from the vahanam and taken in a procession around the temple.

Photos of the procession will be uploaded here shortly.
If you want to share web links of your photos or videos, mail a note to -

The buzz at 16-pillared mantapam

As day breaks in the summer of April, and the rishabha vahanam reaches the 16-pillared mantapam in Sannidhi Street, the nadeswaram troupe, still at play goes around around the deities.
Many Mylaporeans who have woken up early today to be part of the celebration, come forward, pray and receive prasadam in the mantapam area.
Aarathi is then taken simultaneously for all the three deities.
Neivedayam is offered to the Gods.
The images of the Lord Vinayagar and Chandikeshwar do the pradakshinam and are taken inside the temple.
Lord Muruga follows and then, those of Karpagambal.

The rishabha vahanam procession, especially the final leg is a visual and aural delight to all those who faithfully follow and participate in the panguni vizha here.

Rishabha Vahanam - day 2

April 2, 5.15 a.m.

This has been a procession that goes on through the night and into the morning.
When we arrive today to cover the final leg of the rishabha vahanam procession of the Lords, the vahanam of Lord Kapali has reached the 'ther' junction.
Two, big umbrellas are now removed and a symbolic silver umbrella is fixed.
The deity is slowly brought to the 16 pillared mantapam which has been cleaned and decorated for this occasion.

This is followed by images of Karpagambal and Lord Murgan.
Karpagambal is seated on a golden rishabham and Lord Murga on a golden peacock.
The vahanams were allowed to rest in the mantapam and as day breaks, large number of devotees crowd around and come forward to have a glimps of the Gods.
Today being a working day, the crowd is limited though; dominated as it were by senior citizens.
The nadaswaram troupe keeps up the tempo with their songs and the stage is set for a final ritual before the images move into the temple.

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Rishabha Vahanam

April 1

Whole battalion of police has landed at Ponnambala Vathier Street hall meant for police stay.
Scout boys headed by Giridhar were also on duty managing the crowd.
One man supplied water in plastic tumbler for people pushing & pulling behind the control line rope
At 9.45 p.m. all 5 deities decked, took a pradakshinam inside the temple.  At 10.15 p.m. Lord Vinayaka appeared at the gopuravasal mounted on Mushika.
Lord Kapali on Rishabha was seen at the entrance. The special aarathy was taken there itself.  Then the lord took the procession crossing the gopuravasal.
It took nearly 20 minutes to reach the 16 pillar mantap. The same volunteers are to carry and bring karpagamba too. Lord Muruga and Chandikeswara followed.
The crowd rushed in to witnessing Chandikeswara.
In the mean time there were 2 more announcements of missing kids in custody. The police made the child make the call for his mother.
The crowd dispersed slowly after the three deities reached 16 pillar mantap.

- Reported by V. Vasantha

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Today; rishabha vahanam

On Friday, the shutters that safeguard the ther in its 'house' on East Mada Street had been drawn up. But we saw only the bare chariot.

On Saturday, the scene was different. Men began to work on the ther.
A group painted some parts of it to heighten the images at its base.
Others dropped off rough cut blocks of wood which will be used to leverage the giant wheels of the ther as it rumbles down the road.

Later in the evening, a new set of massive coir ropes were off loaded near the ther. These will be used by dozens of bhaktas to pull the ther down the mada veedhis on Tuesday morning.

On Sunday morning, the buzz was back inside the temple as preparations began for the rishabha vahanam  procession which starts later this evening.

Photos: Preparing the ther