17 June 2006

Full Moon Pradakshina

If you want to walk around Arunachala, quietly and peacefully then don't come during Full Moon (Poornima). Each month the crowds get larger and more boisterously enthusiastic. There is a tremendous vitality and passion in the mainly Tamil crowds that come to Arunachala to circumambulate the Hill. The experience is stirring yet fun; not at all the sedate walk around the Mountain 'like a Queen in her last month of pregnancy' so often advocated by saints and sages. If you want peace and silence then come on an ordinary day and set out at 3 a.m. and that's as close as you will get to experiencing a traditional, historic giripradakshina.

All around the perimeter of the 14 km walk are Temples, Shrines, Tirthams, Sadhus, Beggars, Roadside Wallahs (sellers), Entertainers, Artists, Fortune Tellers and so on. For now here are some photographs to give you the flavour of Full Moon Pradakshina at Arunachala.

Sadhu sitting in front of shrine. Probably not as idyllic as it looks; must be noisy, and doubtless there is a bad smell and mosquitoes from the standing water!

This silver Gandhi impersonator has been a favourite here for many years. Stands motionless for hours and always with a big crowd watching. Just hope he makes more than his bus fare home!

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