Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Great Day That Was

I could not have asked for a better day in my life. A dream has come true! As dreamt ealier, we were waiting for the day to give back something as our gratitude to the community who have dedicated their lives by staying in their ancestral villages to continue the service to the deities of the place worshipped by their forefathers many times in a day.In fact, our one time recognition can not satisfy their needs fully. Yet we thought a small beginning could bring some reprieve in them from the agony they suffer.Unless their status improves, the irreplaceable community will look for green pastures and the damage caused will be irreparable.It is too late even today ,but then a final attempt to save our tradition. Inorder to minimise the exit from the profession, more families must be recognised at frequent intervals. While attrition from other professions draw newspaper headlines, very few people care for those who are in the service of God.

It was on Aug 1st., we invited elderly Sivacharyars and their wives from five rural temples (Vazhuvoor, Nidur,Iluppapattu, Thiruvalaputhur and Melanallur) to be present at the ancient Shiva temple at Thiruvalaputhur ,some 20 Km from Mayiladuthurai. This temple of Chola period has been sung in Thevaram Hymns. The legend says that this place was worshipped by Brahma, Arjuna,Vasuki and a Chola King. The senior priest of this temple is 87 years old and he is assisted by his son who must be around sixty. With no big income in sight, they still prefer to serve the Lord,come what may. Their dedication is matchless.

The other couple were from Nidur, on Mayiladuthrai- Pattavarthi road. The priest must be in his late seventies. Apart from his daily rituals, he sings Thevaram to please the Almighty. This place is surrounded by houses belonging to Muslim community. Only an external help can come to his rescue. He lives there in such an un thinkable condition.

The third couple came from Melanallur,a remote village near Pattavarthi.This place is associated with Nandanar. The priest continues to stay there even in his late seventies with negligible income.

The fourth couple were from Iluppapattu, near Manalmedu. The dedicated family runs their life by staying near the temple. They stay with their son,daughter-in-law and two grand children. One can imagine their plight in bringing up the children when they struggle to meet their daily needs.

The fifth couple came from Vazhuvoor, on Mayiladuthurai- Thiruvarur route. This place is known for the exceptional dance of The cosmic dancer,Gajasamharamurthi. As there are no regular buses to reach the temple which is 2 km away from the main road, the priest who lives in Mayiladuthurai takes the bus and walks down the distance by foot. He does it because of his unshakable faith with The murthi. He is quite knowledgeable in Sivagamas and tries to impress the visitors by narrating the Purana of this place.

The five couples assembled in the morning and an Abhishekam was carried out to Sri Rathnapureeswarar and Sri Bramarakundhalambikai. It was followed by Sri Rudra Thrisathi conducted to the Moola Murthi. Archanas were also conducted to Ambal and Sri Durga Parameswari, fondly worshipped by the locals.

The five couples were then treated on par with Shiva and Parvathi of those places and archanas and deeparadhanas were conducted to them. Vastrams, Sowbagya items were presented to the couples with a sambhavana of Rs 2000 to each couple. Needless to say, this act made them emotional and brought tears in their eyes. With tears covering their vision they blessed us whole heartedly when we offered our respects to them.

Lunch was arranged by us by hiring a cook from Mayiladuthurai. The place opposite Durga sannadhi was cleaned immaculately and the food served was extremely good.

At the end of the day, we thought of a regular monthly income for them. Since I was deeply moved when a priest requested for a monthly help of Rs 300 to him which is hardly Rs 10 per day, I confirmed the same from my behalf and decided to transfer the amount from my bank account by giving a standing instruction to the bank.

I would like to thank those who stood with me in reaching the important milestone and assured more help in the future.

As I said earlier, we have made only a humble and small beginning. But the happiness derived is immeasurable.