Visiting friends and temples

Our regular drivers are busy and the only one free was working the night before. We wait for him and so our trip to Trivandrum is delayed. I do lead a life of luxury when I’m in Perumpuzha. Travelling around in Asha’s car. Accommodation and food is all provided for. I hardly have to lift a finger. I will make up for it when I get back and so might as well make the most of it.

I visit my friend first and we talk for a while. A visit which I wish could have been under better circumstances. Next a leisurely lunch with Maxwell. By six my school friends, Sasi and Sajeev arrive. I’m too full and cannot face another meal. We chat, have some snacks and a drink. Today I had a chance to sit and talk to my friends, share stories and catch up. Some sad ones and some good ones, either way, spending time with good friends is something to cherish.

Amma and I get back home quite late. I am still jet lagged and struggle to sleep. The plumber is coming to fit a new motor for the water pump in the morning. The tank is slow to fill and I wonder if there is something blocking the pipes rather than the actual motor being at fault. Anyway I leave it to experts. After fitting the new motor, they realise that the pipes are indeed faulty and need replacing and so they are coming back again tomorrow. It is not just the urologists who know how to fix faults in the waterworks department but we anaesthetist do know a little bit about plumbing and blocks in the pipe systems as well.

We are visiting our regular temples this evening. It is Navarathri season and Vijayadasami is coming up. In different parts of India it is celebrated differently. In some parts it is to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana and other parts, Durga over Mahishasura. Either way it is an occasion to mark the triumph of good over evil. At Kottarakara temple a kolu is set up to mark the occasion.

At the temple gates I wait for amma to buy the supplies that she regularly gets to make an offering to Lord Ganesha. I walk to the temple pond and have a look at the stagnant water. It starts to rain and as the water drops on the pond and creates ripples, I can see a turtle swimming away. When I turn back there is no sign of her. We normally walk around the outside of the temple first before going in and we also need to break the coconuts that amma has brought as a result of the number of ‘nerchas’ that she has done since her last visit. I count 8 coconuts. I can’t see her as I make half a circle walk around the outside of the temple and then at the other end when I look in, she is already circling the inside. I now get inside through the wrong entrance and start my circling of the gods from the wrong end of the temple. I wonder if it matters as I pray to Parvathy, Siva and Ganesha all in the wrong order. Next we go out and break the coconuts and complete our outside circle. The price of the unniyappams have almost doubled and we buy a few packets to eat and distribute.

Next stop is the Sivakshethram. This time Amma starts the circling of the temple on the outside, but she walks past the outside gods without stopping to pray. She is lost in thoughts and then when we reach halfway she asks me if we should start the prayers. ‘Amma, we’ve already missed half the gods, we can’t just pray to the rest and so we will have to do it again’. So we go inside and do it properly this time. We’ve brought some koovalam leaves from our tree at home as an offering to Lord Siva and leave it at the sopanam. I ask the priest for the correct words to the different sections of the temple and he is only too happy to explain. I find that is the advantage of going to temples which are not busy. Whereas in popular busy temples the priests can be quite rude.

As we make our way back, I can see thick dark clouds circling in. As they get larger and larger, they start to look like distant mountains hovering over our village. We escape the rain as it pours down sharply while we are at my mum’s friend’s house. It then clears up and gives us enough time to pray at the next temple.

By the time we get to our village temple, we are not that lucky. It is the first time I think I’ve prayed in a temple in the rain. I quite like it. We are just in time for the last prayers before the temple closes. I always like the look of Lord Vishnu when he is covered and decorated with sandalwood in such a way that he has a beaming smile on his face. It is as if he is trying to tell me that everything will be ok. We leave the thulasi leaves that we collected from home as an offering and collect the aval prasadam and make our way home.

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