1 April 2007

Day at Temples

Today I accompanied some out-of-town friends on a tour of favoured Arunachala Temples. As the day is full moon and some special pujas were scheduled for early morning at Arunachaleswarar Temple, that is where we started our Temple tour. To begin with, it is really essential, when visiting this Temple, to buy delicious eatable prasadam to take home and share with one's friends.

On our way to the Shiva Shrine (inside the Temple compound) we passed this Thulabaram. In the case of a prayer to the Divine, a person can make a vow that in the case of the fruition of that prayer, one's weight in bananas, rice, cloth, or whatever will be offered to God. So, when one's prayer is answered and its time to honour the vow, the person sits on the scale while the other side gets loaded up equal in weight with whatever was promised.

In the below photograph a lady is rolling around the perimeter of the shrine. She is accompanied by two family members. Sometimes people will roll around the whole of the 14km girivalam path in this way. It takes a long, long time!

Next two young lads, dressed rather splendidly, arrive to carry a flower decoration (kavadi) connected to the worship of Lord Murugan.

In this picture a father has returned to the Temple with his son to offer thanks for the boy's birth. The father and mother have brought sugar canes and cloth and will carry the boy in a palanquin around the perimeter of the Shiva Shrine.

The below photograph is the flagpost of the Arunachaleswarar Temple which plays such an important role during the Deepam festival.

The Temple is like a little city as there is always so much going on. Its a wonderful place to spend time in. Here one of the Temple cows from the Goshala who has just participated in a puja inside the Compound, is being fed herbs and grasses by devotees. In the background some ladies looking on and also, behind a pillar, the outline of Ruku, the Temple cow elephant.

Time for Ruku's morning bath. I followed her and the mahout on their way to the Goshala for her morning ablutions. The Goshala is where Ruku sleeps and has her home; nice that she has lots of company with the cows and calves.

And here is one of the young calves also living at the Goshala. The Temple keep their own cows for the milk which is daily needed for various Temple pujas.

A view of Arunachala from inside the Temple. The photograph is taken from infront of the Unnamulai Shrine.

Just wandering around from one part of the Temple to another. The Temple compound is huge and although situated right inside the small, bustling town of Tiruvannamalai, is absolutely silent of traffic and outside noise.

So our time at Arunachaleswarar Temple is over (for the moment) and we now continue our tour of favourite Arunachala Temples and Shrines. We first visit Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram in Ramana Nagar and after visiting the samadhi of the great saint, sit outside in front of a magnficent statue of Dakshinamurti with Arunachala in the background.

The below photograph is a more detailed one of the statue of Dakshinamurti.

The next Temple we visit is the Balaji (Lord Venkateshwara) Temple. It is a new temple, still under construction, and I have made some earlier postings on it you might like to visit. The below photograph is of a new statue of an aspect of Vaishnavi which is the grounds of the Temple.

We finish off our morning at absolutely one of my favourite Arunachala Temples, the Rajarajeshwari Koil. It is small but beautifully maintained and of particular interest are the statues of the Dasa Mahavidyas. But the below photograph is of Sri Rajarajeshwari herself of which we were given special permission to photograph.

In more detail the enigmatic and disarmingly sweet smile of the Goddess.

A happy and well blessed morning visiting at some of the wonderful and inspirational Arunachala Temples.

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