21 August 2016

Under my Bamboo Roof

Big thanks to those who sent best wishes to Max during his recent illness. He is now almost back in perfect health. The below photograph of him crashing out on the roof is because we have returned from a long walk and swim followed by a very large meal. The dog is happy, healthy but exhausted. He sends his best to all out there. 

Gorgeous Max

In the beginning of February I had a nice bamboo cover put on my roof. I have used many bamboo roofers at Tiruvannamalai, but the crew who made my current roof are by far and away the very best Tiruvannamalai has to offer. They work creating bamboo and mandapam structures at; all major Temples (including Arunachaleswarar Kovil), marriage halls, mandapams, restaurants, functions and private homes. 

I have used many different bamboo construction crews in Tiruvannamalai, and through trial and error have now found an excellent craftsman, so am making this posting and including Balaji's mobile phone number. You can reach him at +919486370325.

My roof garden

Balaji, bamboo roofing artisan with strut to add for extra monsoon support

Winds have been very fierce over the last few weeks, and as the monsoon will soon be upon us, asked Balaji to drop by and make a quick addition to my roof. Balaji's family originates from Tiruvannamalai. His father, who is now deceased, was a bamboo roofer and it was by working with him, that Balaji learnt his craft. Since my bamboo roof was constructed in February, it has remained absolutely solid and immovable. Very happy with it. 

Balaji and his brother Bhaskaran

Built in February and looks as good now as then

The roof is one of Max's favourite places

Nice tidy work. Balaji's crew spent a total of 2 days taking down the previous roof and replacing it with this new one

Looking towards the West

Looking towards the East

Additional strut added on for extra monsoon support

17 August 2016

Arunachala—The Absolute Form of Shiva Himself

“In the Dravidian region of South India, there is the greatest place called Arunachala, dearest to Chandrasekara. It is the abode of Shiva and Yogis. Arunachala is to this world what the heart is to the whole body. It is everything for Shiva. For the benefit of the world, Shiva took the form of a mountain and settled himself as Arunachala. 

There is no sacred place like Arunachala, there is no better discipline than devotion. There is no better protection than that afforded by vibhutti. There is no happiness superior to detachment. There is no position superior to salvation. If other kshetras are abodes of Shiva, Arunachala is the absolute form of Shiva himself.” 

[Skanda Purana] 

15 August 2016

Soma Pradosham, Monday, August 15, 2016 -- Arunachaleswarar Temple

Over the last few days due to holidays and the celebration of India Independence Day, the town and Arunachaleswarar Temple have been very busy. 

Queue winding its way around the 3rd prakaram, waiting for Darshan at Siva Sannidhi on August 14, 2016


The Significance of Soma Pradosham 

Lord Shiva is also known as Chandrasekhara, which literally refers to the 'Person who wears the moon'. In some cultures the appearance of the new crescent moon has been celebrated as a return of the moon from the dead. This celestial body is a powerful influence on the human psyche. Its influence which is always available at Arunachala is celebrated in disparate ways during Sivaratri and Poornima. It is also recognised in all Pradoshams that fall on Mondays, as did today’s Pradosham Monday 15 August, 2016. 

As you come into Tiruvannamalai via the Chengham Road, in front of the Agni Tank, there is Rotary Club sign proclaiming this place to be “Moon City”. What a wonderful name for our town

Abhishekam Large Nandi, 5th Temple Prakaram

Hinduism propounds the idea that the (nine) Navagrahas (of which Chandra is one) are 'markers of influence'—living energies which put out waves which affect our awareness by seizing our consciousness when we come under their influence. Reports of psychics and seers agree that Grahas cause a direct energy influence upon the energy bodies and minds of all life on earth. The nine planets (Navagrahas) are transmitters of Universal, archetypal energy and the qualities of each planet helps maintain the overall balance of polarities in the solar system. 

Aarti, Soma Pradosham: August 15, 2016

Lord Shiva wears on his head the crescent of the fifth-day moon. Placed near his fiery third eye this shows the power of Soma, the sacrificial offering, which is the representative of Moon and signifies that Shiva possesses the power of procreation co-existent with that of destruction. 

Chandra has the following associations: 

colour: white
gender: female
metal: silver
gemstones: pearl and moonstone
element: water
direction: north-west
season: Winter
body part: blood
food: rice
taste: salt
day: Monday
guna: Sattwa

The Sun is the indicator of the soul and the Moon is the vehicle of the mind that receives the light of the soul. Even though all the Navagrahas are represented at Arunachala, the Moon with its particular association with Lord Shiva (Chandrasekhara) has an extraordinary influence. 

Large crowd of devotees watching Pradosham of Nandi: 5th Prakaram

In one legend, Chandra is considered the son of the ocean as he was one of the fourteen ratnas (Jewels) that emerged from the ocean during its churning and was gifted, by the Gods and Demons to Lord Shiva, who wore the crescent moon on his head. 

Aarti at Nandi, Flagpost outside Siva Sannidhi

The Gods being taken on procession around the 3rd Prakaram

Lord Arunachaleswarar and the Goddess Alankaram

Chandra is a lovable God; pleasing to children as well as elders. Sages and devotees invoke the Goddess in Chandra. A benefic Moon is often found in the charts of doctors, healers or psychologists, as well as good mothers and wives. A strong Moon can give power and creates a good administrator or leader open to the needs of his people and indicates relationship, interchange, and communication. A strong Moon also shows sensitivity, receptivity, caring for others and a nurturing attitude in life. It gives emotional maturity, responsibility and the capacity to have a beneficial effect upon society. 

The Gods being carried on a palanquin

To read a wonderful legend explaining why the Moon's light is so soft, and cool, and beautiful even to this day go to an earlier posting “Moonlight,” at this link here

12 August 2016

A Sorry Looking Max

Oh dear. Max my greedy boy has finally gone and done it. He has a stone lodged in his upper intestines making him very uncomfortable. Have been trying to wean him of his stone chewing habit . . . but it seems one stone passed us both by. Yesterday took Max to the Government Animal Hospital in town for an x-ray to confirm the obstruction. Yes, the stone is there. He has been put on a 3 day course of purgatives and if that doesn't do the trick, the old daftie will have to have the stone surgically removed. 

Ram Prasad who works at the Animal Shelter in Ramana Nagar making sure Max stays on the table

He is feeling immensely sorry for himself . . . with very little either going in or coming out. Poor thing. Well its almost over . . . only 2 more days to go after today before the matter is resolved one way or another! 

Max, looking sorry for himself

Max is at about 60% of liveliness, so is still performing his duties of retrieving as his name (Labrador Retriever) alludes. We are waiting for the heavy rains of the monsoon to start, in the meantime small ponds on the Eri are drying up and fish are dying from lack of oxygen. To help the land birds, everytime we see a dead fish in one of the ponds, Max jumps in and brings it to the shore for the birds to snack on. Today we got out two such dead fish from one pond. The fish are quite large, you can get an idea of their size from the fish on the ground next to little blackie Winnie. 

Winnie having a good look at a dead fish in front of her

Winnie guarding the fish. Max taking a well deserved cooling-off
The drying-up pond with Arunachala as background

7 August 2016

Goddess Rajarajeshwari Adi Puram 2016

The below photographs of the Goddess were taken Friday evening, 5th August 2016, the day of Adi Pooram at Rajarajeshwari Temple off the Girivalam Roadway. My friend who visited the Temple at around 8.30 p.m. said that even at such a late time, well after the puja had been completed there were over 200 devotees still at the Temple eager to take darshan of what many believe to be is a living Goddess. Without a doubt this is the most loved and adored Goddess at Arunachala -- who at every Festival is dressed and garlanded in the most glorious fashion. 

If you have not yet visited this Goddess at Arunachala, make sure to take Her darshan next time you come. To find out more about the Rajarajeshwari Temple, the Koorm Pristhiya (Kurma Meru Yantra) in the inner Shrine and The Dasa Mahavidyas - The Ten Wisdom Goddesses in the mandapam, refer to my website Arunachala Samudra at this link here

The Goddess Sri Rajarajeshwari of Arunachala

Dressed in a multitude of full size saris

The Goddess embedded in the sweet scent of garlands

The beatific, glorious Sri Rajarajeshwari

6 August 2016

Pictorial Report: 2016 Adi Puram Arunachaleswar Temple -- Firewalking Ceremony

The last part of the 2016 Adi Pooram festivities observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple was the Firewalking ceremony conducted in front of the Mother’s Shrine in the Temple’s 3rd Prakaram. Devotees prepare for their firewalk at the Temple’s Theertham. Great logs are burnt down and the burning embers laid in front of the Mother’s Shrine at Arunachaleswarar Temple. The Mother is brought out by palanquin from Her shrine to watch Her devotees perform their firewalk, as a test and celebration of their devotion to the Divine. 

I have written at length about the symbolism and unique significance of this firewalk ceremony at Arunachaleswarar Temple—a Shiva Sthalam. For more information please refer to an earlier posting at this link here

Logs being prepared for the firewalk ceremony

Mother being brought to the front of her Shrine to watch the Ceremony

Specially approved Devotees who will be undertaking the firewalk ceremony

Burning embers placed in front of the Mother's Shrine: 3rd Prakaram

Devotees rushing over the burning embers

2016 Adi Pooram Firewalking Ceremony: Arunachaleswarar Temple

Pictorial Report: 2016 Adi Puram Arunachaleswar Temple -- Vallaikappu Ceremony

Abhishekam was performed on the Goddess Parashakti Amman at the Vallaikappu Mandapam in the 5th Prakaram of Arunachaleswarar Temple in the evening of Adi Pooram, Friday 5th August, 2016. This was followed by distribution of bangles at 5 p.m. Around 6 p.m. Goddess Parashakti Amman was carried in procession from the Mandapam and returned Her Shrine at the 3rd Prakaram. 

On this day of Adi Pooram glass bangles are offered to Ambal and then distributed to devotees. These bangles are said to provide offspring and generally protect one from evils. In addition Valaikaappu is a Festival during which a pregnant woman wears glass bangles, the sound of which is said to protect her and the child from evil forces. 

Abhishekam of the Goddess at the Valaikappu Mandapam, Big Temple

Crowds of ladies watching the Abhisekam of the Goddess

The Goddess with her glass bangles at the Mandapam

Goddess Parashakti Amman after Abhishekam at Mandapam

Pictorial Report: 2016 Adi Puram Arunachaleswar Temple -- Theerthavari Ceremony

The below photographs are of the morning of the Adi Puram festival as celebrated at Sri Arunachaleswarar Temple on Friday, 5th August, 2016. The Goddess Parashakti Amman was carried by palanquin to the Shivagangai Theertham for theerthavari. The bath in the Theertham occurred at around 12.30 p.m. 

Afterwards, Goddess Parashakti Amman was carried by palanquin to the Vallaikappu Mandapm. In the afternoon a special abhishekam was performed which wasfollowed by distribution of bangles at 5 p.m. By about 6 p.m. Goddess Parashakti Amman is carried in procession from the Mandapam and returned Her Shrine in the 3rd Prakaram. 

Mother being carried to the Sivagangai Theertham

Theertham at the Sivagangai Tank

Priests with Sulam inside Sivagangai Tank

Puja being performed on Sulam side of Tank

Divine Mother being brought to the Valaikappu Mandapam, 5th Prakaram

2 August 2016

Morning walk under Arunachala's Loving Eyes

Even though there is ongoing development throughout the Tiruvannamalai area, still some lovely spots exist in which one can relax and enjoy. The bottom photographs are of a morning's excursion with my doggies at the Samudram Eri. As previously mentioned in many earlier postings, over the last eight years industrial level sand quarrying is being undertaken in many areas of the 750 acre Eri. 

About a month ago a halt was made to the sand quarrying, whether this is a temporary or permanent halt, only time will tell. But the halt has already been long enough for life to calm down after years of continuous noise and noxious fumes from the many sand diggers and heavy truck earth movers that have been infesting the Eri. So lets just enjoy the peace and see what happens. 

Nearby State Reserve Forest adjacent to the Eri

Acres of undisturbed Reserve lands

Artifical lakes have been created by the sand digging which are now hugely popular with both domestic and migratory birds

Fabulous Banyan Tree on Bund of Arunachala Eri

My little Holly lost in all the greenery

Magnificient darshan of Holy Arunachala

Darshan of the Arunachaleswarar Temple's Raja Gopuram bottom of Hill slope

Numerous artifical lakes and ponds have created by sand exacuvations. My doggie Max having a leisurely swim!

Parvathamalai Hill in background. Hope to be visiting and performing the 25 km girivalm soon. Will post photos

Large number of Fork Tail Kites on the Eri in the mornings

White doggie Max, black doggie Winnie, manoeuvring for stick rights!

Side of Eri: Preparing fields in the old fashioned way for Paddy planting!!!