The temple bells rang, devotional songs played through the tannoy and priests conducted prayers in earnest. Weekends are busy days in the Murugan temple. People celebrating birthdays, weddings, special occasions along with the regular worshippers.
We are here to celebrate an important milestone birthday in the family. The priest came, started the function, asked us to sit and then disappeared. We wait for him patiently. Some sitting cross legged or any which way their legs will fold and those who can’t, stand and wait. The pooja is for Lord Shiva and after a while the priest returns to continue his rituals. He bathes the deity in milk and all sorts of concoctions finishing it off with honey, tender coconut water and freshly squeezed orange juice before washing it all off. Even Cleopatra may not have had this much attention. A screen covers the statue while the dressing up session takes place and the god is revealed in all his finery as the bells start ringing again and the priest chants his prayers.
The smell of incense is not the strongest today and I wonder if the usage has been cut back. I do wish that they would reduce the wastage of these food items though. It does seem a pity that litres of fresh milk is poured down the drain and I wonder if the ancient scriptures have this as a clause in their prayer protocols. Even if they did isn’t it time to stop these practices.
We complete our prayers to the main deity and the rest of the satellite gods and goddesses before going for lunch in the nearby Saravana bhavan restaurant. The place is heaving but they manage to find seating for the fifteen of us. Masala tea was not on the menu but was available on request. Once again like having a quiet prayer, sipping the tea and savouring it was not on the cards today as the circumstances didn’t quite permit it. Today was not a day for silent prayers and enjoying that cup of tea on one’s own. It was a day to mark the occasion of an important date for us as a family according to the Hindu calendar. The main date is following soon.