Panagudi stories 6


Along the main road turning to Panagudi the Police Station lay juxtaposed in between the Ramalinga Swamy Temple and Theppakulam. On the right of Temple runs a small "Tar Road", a nondescript sign board moans the road to "Seran Maha Devi" .
This road is always a quiet, contemplative road, for less people tread on them, and rare buses go through them. It is the road of last journey for all of Panagudians. Yes, this road first leads to Panagudi Sudu Kaadu - or Idu Kaadu (Sudu- cremate Idu- Bury -as the case may be).

Today it was raining heavily. I like rain, even if it is causing pain, obstructing movements, dashing schedules, making your house stink with damp clothes, or an autoriksha splashes dirty mud on your uniform, i like rain.

Like Jeyakandan said, Love cleanses all mistakes. I love rain, so its mistakes are not noticeable.

I ask myself, can you like it if it comes as a Flood, where thousands flushed away?, villages sink, carcasses float, politicians fly over, food packets strewn from heli's, and its a "Breaking News?"

To say, still "I like it" will be cruel on the face of it, but there is a precipitation of Human Helplessness, Human Failure in such moments...... September 11 was such a moment....Human Understanding comes to the fore during those times, realise that we are a tiny mass in the entire Universe, a blob of nothing, a Maya....

"Kanpathellam Maraiyum Enraal... Maraivathellam Kanpam Anro?
Naanum Oor Kanavo? Indha Yga Lamum Poithaano?"
-Barathi captures this fantastic Maya state in those lines...

So such was the condition of PK there. He didn't love Paapammal, he did not even know what is Love, what he knew was the state of fatal attraction, the venom of passion that a woman can feed to a man...

Till her death, Paapammal never forgotton this young Man in his teens. For a Woman Love blossoms only once!. So PK has to respect the divine feelings of a Woman, whom he wanted to care, to help her forget her wounded past, to eradicate the feeling of Untouchableness in her heart.

Even at her death bed, at the grey age of her sixties, Paappammal never left the hope that PK will come to see her. She wrote, with the help of her one and only son, to PK, who was by then a married man, a beautiful wife and two children. The letter arrived in time to PK. For PK it is like a pilgrimage, a final duty to be performed. He felt no shame to take his wife to Paapammal's dilapitated house in the rain washed red sands of Panagudi. He reached there in time.

What can they talk?. Silence is powerful than 1000 words. They saw each other, they understood everything, that one moment of eye contact exchanged millions of data. For a woman, tears may be an ornament, but for a man, it is a thorny crown.

When PK and his wife left that house, PK's wife didn't feel anything bad about him, infact, in her heart of hearts she was proud of her husband. The way he attracted woman, his dashing gallant, and his sense of duty (Kadamai).

Panagudi Ramalinga Swamy Temple is not as Big as Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, but it stood in style knowing that for Panagudi, it is the Vatican. Once upon a time it might have been laying on high ground, but now, due to constant renovation of the Panagudi Main Road, the Temple goes down to the ground inch by inch. On the Kovil Thinnai you see few village urchins sleeping or gossiping. The standard beggars are also found here. Now we go down the steps further, remove our shoes to enter the Temple. I ask you to remove the socks also, since I want your foot should experiance the touch of cold, darkened black mosaic. Put your Right Foot first. Can you feel the cold passing to your spine?. Its an emotionally absorbing enterance.

Kovils, all over Tamilnadu, has this magnificient look, and emotional appeal. Dravidian Architectural marvel is complicated, compared to the bland Aryan Archtecture of the North. Worst still, is the Palingu Chilais' of Rama and Seetha's of North India, where thousands of Tamils complain "Enna Erunthalum Namma Oor Kovil mari Varathu!".

Dravidian Architecture, spreads up to the Krishna River in Andhra in the North East, and upto Kaveri in the North West. Its all about a standard Kopuram motif, where thousands of Godly tales are depicted in the form of small "Golu" type statues (technically it is called "Bas Reliefs"). These Golu Statues are positioned all round the Gopuram. Gopuram is divided into many steps, each step has got a central window, which is the manhole for the repair man. Most of the temples have odd steps, for in godly places, even is abominable, odd is adorable. 7 Steps, 7 Kumbhams Gopurams are popular, 9/9, 13/13 are for medium and big temples. After these beautifully crafted steps, we reach to the top Kumbams, which are a Freudian shaped like a cocnut with "kudumi".

Kumbams are the crown of Temples, just like the crown of Raja, it is also to be made of some glittering material, either Gold, or Bronze. It is to be cleansed by ritualistic pooja's every year. Kumbabishekam it is called. Now a days these Gopurams are commonly have a loud speaker also, where from the Temple authorities broad cast religious songs early morning. This lead to early morning Speaker Wars between Hindu, Christian and Muslim broadcasts. If its the case in your neighbourhood, Its good to getup late!.

So, by crossing that main Stone entrance of any Hindu Temple, we are crossing the Holy Gopuram also. Now we step in further, where, to our left and right, the History of the Temple is written in a Kal Vettugal. Mostly the kal vettu kathaigal will start from Pandya/Chera/Chola/Pallava Kingdom to the latest Nayakkars and finally our latest Chief Ministers, and the Aranilya Thurai amaichar, and the Tharmakartha. It is a matter of Political propaganda.

Now we reach inside the piraharam, where commanly you find the "Kodi Kambam", another Godly motif, on which the God's Flag is mounted. Depending on the richness of the temple, it is either made of wood, kal thoon, or brass plated kal thoon. Here also, sculptures depict the "Sthala Puranam" -the story of the Temple, in short, as icons.

During Kovil Thiuvizha, Kodi Eetru means, actually the flag is hoisted on this Kodikambam only. It takes 11 days for the flag to be lowered again, while the Thiruvizha will go on. This place may be or may not be covered, depending on the local modifications.
By now you must be familar with the smell of Bat's shit. Some popular conception of this vavvaals hanging upside down is that they are sinful people, hanging like this for gaining punniyam.

Reaching to the Moolavar sannathi is very easy in Panagudi kovil, not like many other temples. There is a grand hall, then suddenly alighting to the sannadhi. The Great God of India, The Lord Shiva is sitting there as a Lingam. Approach path to the karpakk kiragam is divided into two lanes -one for men and the other for women and children. Panagudi Kovil poojari is always in boring mood, just like most of the village poojaris, he simply throws cheap quality manal like viboothi at you. Sometimes, if you are going with village elders, he may show some interest at you. Otherwise, he does the pooja fast, and simply disappears, some where, so mostly the Swamy is left alone!.

more to come...

I thought of writing a long story abt this...
may be in the future!...

So Avoodai Nayagam Pillai settled at home, exactly on the "vadakkarai" (North Room) Oonjal
where he brooded over his past, glory days.

He is not, thank God, addicted to any "bad habits". He even doesn't chew Tobacco as his wife, Isakkiammal did. He doesn't smoke, or drink, nor did he had any affairs.

He is very tall, sandal colored, just juxtaposed with his wife who is amzingly short, dark skinned.
There was a rumour that he even doesn't like his marriage, but could not revolt against his father.

He is a self taught man of letters, especially legal things were his cup of tea.
People of the village always surrounds him with legal queries over land, wealth etc.
He did a FREE legal consultancy for them.
That soon became his retired profession.

On a peculiar law suit, which till date i don't know why it was fought, A.Pillai defended himself at the courts, without a lawyers' help. He won it after his death (only can happen in Indian Tortoise Courts).

He was inclined towards Self Respect movement of EVR Periar, so he cut the Thennai Marams of his Farm when it was considered a Tree which gives "KaLL" (Toddy - a village alcohol). It was actually Mahatma Gandhi's Idea.

He used to buy "Kudiarasu" newspaper published by Thanthai Periar. Later on, A.Pillai changed his avowals, became convinced that God or the notion of God is indeed a supreme idea. He died a believer.

He is somewhat a man of Principles also. He washed all his clothes.
"Than Kundi thuniyak kooda thuvaikaathavan ellaam oru manithanaa?" he thundered!.

All of his grand children remember of him as a Dreadful man because he was disturbed by our noises.

On his 60th Birthday, the whole of Panagudi family took a group photo. around 60 people are there in it.

We are all tiny in it. Me and Lakshmi too, near by each other, without knowing that one day we will be Life Partners.



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