Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Annanad temple festival- the pachyderms

The number of elephants that take part in a temple festival depends on that temple's resources and means. Thus while the Trissur Pooram draws nearly 40 elephants over a period of three days, Annanad's small Veluppilly temple has this year been able to afford seven elephants, real progress from the 5 seen last year.. The elephants travel from their homes on foot or by truck.
Each elephant has a distinct identity:
Mangalaamkunnu Ayyappan
Ithithaanam Guruvayoorappan
Thiruvaanikkaavu Raajagopaal
Kiran Naaraayanankutty
Unnippilly Kaalidasan
Madhurappuram Kannan
Pallathaamkulangara Gireesan

Of late, the elephants wear their names proudly around their neck (I can now identify Gireesan, once I see the nameplate when I chance upon him at another temple :) ). The pachyderms are dear in so many ways...their seemingly infinite patience, their majestic sounding names, their trained kneel-down obeisance to the diety...
The noble giants look extra-royal when they are readied for the ceremonies with shining headgear (nettippattam) and neckwear, that have been carefully and painstakingly polished for the special day.

To the biggest Aana goes the honour of carrying the deity throughout the festival.
To anyone, including my son (who crinkled his nose as we approached the holy parade from the rear - where 'relieving activity' was going on; the giants are excused), the magnificent array is a sight that gets etched well in the grey cells...
Here are more impressions of rhythmic movements of the Venchaamaram and the Aalavattam in sync with the percussion music.
Patience-personified Manikandan.

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Annanad Uthram Vilakku - Melam

At the Uthram Vilakku festival of the Annanad Veluppilly temple, the melam consisted of Chenda, talam, kuzhal and kombu. I tried to capture samples of the ambience...
Hands of ardent percussion music fans 'accompany' the artistes...
...as do the pachyderm's ears, it seemed to me.

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Annanad Uthram Vilakku witnessed

I had promised to write about the Annanad temple festival that took place on Feb 23 at the Ayyappa temple in Annanad.
Veluppilly Ambalam, is "a shrine dedicated to Sri Dharma Shastha as ‘Balarupam’ which is unique of its kind – is a place of incredible divinity. The rarity of the idol in ‘Balarupam’ in Kerala attracts multitudes of pilgrims to the temple"
That weekend was a veritable learning experience. Lessons ranged from 'Para Nirakkal' to 'Patience and tolerance of elephants'.
The temple's morning poojas commence as usual, the special feature is the public's offering of grains (husked and unhusked rice, puffed rice & flattened rice), flowers, sesame, turmeric, coins, and jaggery to the diety. Besides these, the devotees contribute towards the fireworks that are an exciting feature of the festivities.
In brief the festival consists of special poojas, traditional music, glorification of the diety mounted on elephants, sample and main fireworks, and a socio-cultural stage play. The complete sequence lasts for well over 12 hours, beginning at 3.00 pm with the auspicious music of Nadaswarams, and ending with the 'Melam' at 4:30 am the next day. This is the sequence in detail:
3:00 Nadaswaram
3:30 Melam
6:30 Deeparadhana
7:00 Sample Vedikettu
8:00 tayambaka
9:30 Nritya natakam
12:30 Uthram Vilakkezhunnallippu - Nadaswaram
1:00 Panchavadyam
4:00 vedikettu
4:30 Melam
All Kerala temple festivals consist of these major features, many spread over several days.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Annanad temple festival, Chalakudy, Kerala

Annanad (please zoom out on the map to the right to see the location) is a village 2 km west from NH-47 (Salem-Kanyakumari National Highway) at Muringoor, south of Chalakudy in central Kerala. Sri Dharmasastha is the diety at the Veluppilly temple, and as with every Kerala temple, here too an annual temple festival is celebrated with traditional fervour. This year, the D-day falls on 23 Feb - the day of 'Uthram' star of the Kumbham lunar month (Feb-Mar). As I look forward to attending the festival after a very long wait, I hear a nostalgic localite trying to put into words childhood impressions of his village's grand day. "A micro-miniature version of the Trissur Pooram festival", he tries to explain. "Those days (in the 70's and 80's), there were huge trees in the space in front of the temple, including a (jokingly christened) 'Almaa' (a banyan and a mango tree with intertwined branches), and another 'Maaplaa' (a mango tree and a jackfruit tree with intertwined branches)". The trees had formed the backdrop for the festivities, but not any longer...
The diety's 'cavalcade' consists of oil-torch bearers, followed by the 'panchavaadya' team, five caparisoned elephants with the diety mounted on the biggest pachyderm, each with 'Venchaamarams', 'Aalavattams', and 'Muthukudaas'.
Photo courtesy www.thehinduimages.com
Pl await a first-hand account...
That's next weekend.
[Right now, this weekend, the Arangali kadavu on the Chalakudy river at Annanad is witnessing a cultural fest - tourism promotion efforts, presumably. One fervently hopes all parties - localites, ministers and visitors consciously remember to encourage only eco-tourism, and accord the river, the beaches and the greenery due respect to save them from the slow death that has been looming on the horizon]

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Monday, February 11, 2008

"When in doubt, press..."

A long time ago (early 1990's actually - I look back on it as a previous avatar, in another century) while serving in the Air Force, my duties included the development of an EDP (how archaic that sounds now!) cell at a maintenance base. After all, I was a fresh engineering graduate exposed to computing as part of course work.
Luckily, several of the working staff were good hands at developing computer-based systems for routine documentation and materials management using available resources (DOS, Foxpro, 386s and 486's and a primitive LAN).
Understandably, quite a few personnel, experts & geniuses at fighter aircraft systems and military tactics, had never seen a computer, nor could they tell hardware from software. But eagerness to learn was evident; many soon overcame initial awe and went on to accept and use all kinds of ware. One colleague summed up his understanding of how the machines functioned, and how one could possibly master that management tool: "When in doubt, press 'Escape'".
Yesterday, my mom called long-distance to ask "I am listening to music on Youtube, but the video has occupied the whole screen. How do I get back my familiar desktop?"
I took a deep breath and commenced long-distance troubleshooting, feeling as earnest as a call-centre voice, then checked myself to confidently advise my septuagenarian parent: "Press 'Esc' -the escape key that you'll find at the top left corner of your keyboard".
That she did, and I'll leave you to guess who was more relieved...


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Shades in my garden

WW, thanks!

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