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ThiruvallikENi

vaidehi_at_ix.netcom.com
Date: Tue Apr 29 1997 - 01:30:17 PDT

"Paarellaam pughazhangthidum Or Saarathy -avan
 Paarththanukkuth thErOttum Saarathy -eNGaL
 Saarathy... Paarthasaarathy!

 ThErOdum veediyaam ThiruvallikENiyilE
 iraru maadhaNgaLum inbamaana thiruvizha....
 Chiththirai maathathil Devaki maingthanam eNGaL kaNNanukku
 paththu naatkal BrahmOtsavath thiruvizha...."

Vaareer kaNdu kaLikka vaareer ...


	ThiruvallikENi is a town with the presiding deity as its Naayakan,
friend, yajamaanan, ishtadeivam, kula deiva roopam who is as everyone
knows Lord Sri Parthasarathy. With a towering and imposing standing
posture of perhaps 15-16 feet or more and with a huge moustache he
steals everyone's heart; especially on this seventh day of the
BrahmOtsavam in the ThiruththEr, He makes Himself closer to anyone and
everyone who comes to have His darshan. (I have to mention what appears
to be a thrilling coincidence for me - I had delayed my mails on this
subject matter for pressing reasons; and on and off had thought about my
"yogyatha" to write about His kalyana guNangaL and so on, but at times
would also wonder about what to write. However I felt strongly I should
atleast make an attempt and write in parts if not all in the same day
and decided to start my narration today with this song. And today I
heard that it happens to be the BrahmOtsavath ThiruththEr for Sri
Parathsarathy PerumaL, the seventh day of the utsavam that sets the tone
and mood for an entire year of celebrations in this temple. It seems
BHEL has made two iron wheels for the ThiruththER and the chariot was
being drawn for the first time with iron wheels today! They were of wood
before.Incidentally my sincere apologies for not being on schedule and
for breaking the kOrvai of the segments on ThiruvallikENi)

	With abhayahastham this murthy is forever enchanting and so stunningly
beautiful. On this day, His (urchava murthy) ThirumEni is decorated with
mostly maroon and red Banares type zari vasthram, and decked with the
choicest jewels and garlands. A diamond kavacham decorates His
abhayahastham always.The "pookadaikaaran" matches His imagination to the
tone and grandeur and season so well, it is a treat to see the garlands
on Him. With all the alankaram completed, and with the tune of
nathaswaram and the beating of the drums with the temple elephant in
front, by six am the "veedhi purappadu" starts from the temple, and
winds through to the top of the stairs located in the front lobby of
this house only a few feet from the temple entrance. The lobby also
serves as the waiting area for the devotees. The top step is connected
to the ThiruthEr via a plank and PerumaL enters the ThiruthEr. Prior to
His arrival the thEr is decorated with fragrant flower strings and long
cylindrical cloth decorators hang from each corner of the chariot. The
ThiruthEr is about 25-30 feet in total height. Perumal with
ubhayanaachimar is offered the seat and customary greetings of samaram,
karpoora harathi, offerings are given and a cocoanut is broken on the
wheels of the ThiruthEr.  Then to a resounding "Govinda, Gopala, Govinda
Gopala", the long cylindrical decorations move a little. 

	By now the sun is well up and the place is teeming with people of all
ages and able men joining forces to take Perumal in His chariot through
the streets of ThiruvallikENi! It is an exciting moment for the kids.
Standing on the ground and looking up at this huge beautiful chariot and
noticing that the chariot inspite of the efforts of so many people not
budging an inch, they wonder! For the bhakthas, there is a glimmer of
darshan through the pillars of the ThEr and when the Bhattar is not
standing in the way! A flash of His hands, oh can we see His Thirumugam
- oh yes I just saw His face- and now His feet; ok lets move fast if we
go to that corner we can see Him better when the ThEr turns the corner-
so goes their thoughts. 

	A short lull and then " Govinda, Gopala starts as a murmer and reaches
awesome proportions- kids shout at the top of their lungs; and in one
sudden jolt the ThiruthEr moves and comes out of its "nilai" (permanent
location). Everyone clears its designated path and runs up front.
Meanwhile maami's who have not completed the kolam or who have waited
for the right moment to start so that it won't be tarmpled completely
before the ThEr comes in front of their houses, hurriedly sanctify the
floor of the street directly in front of their house steps and draw in
no time such elegant time tested and such enormous sized kolams. Every
now and then Harathi is performed for the Lord. Those two bhattars
"PerumaLai aNaiththukkOndu varum bhakyam peruvar on that day". [ The
bhattars embrace the Lord to protect being tilted by sharp turns of the
chariot with one hand on His ThirumEni and one on a pillar to support
themselves. How blessed they must be!]

	The ThiruthEr goes around the immediate four streets adjoining the
temple and the roads are neither too long nor too wide. The procession
starts from one end of Car Street (East) goes through South mada street
(short road) turns into T.P.Koil Street (short for Thulasingal PerumaL
Koil Street) as this is the west entrance of the temple and separate and
also the entrance to Sri Lakshmi Nrisimhar Sannidhi with its own
Dwajasthambham.), goes through Singarachari Street (we lived in a bylane
to this street which joins PeyaalWar Koil St at the other end) and comes
back to Car Street and goes back to the nilai. 

	It is fairly quick until they get to the turning from Singarachari St
to Car St. By now it is already about 10 am sometimes later and at times
earlier. This is by far the most difficult turn to negotiate as far as I
can remember. People bring salt and pepper and scatter it on the wheels.
Meanwhile we (kids) run back home, tell mom that the thEr is at such and
such location, eat, drink and get ready for school and go to school
hoping to catch a glimpse of it again. 

	Finally, the ThEr reaches its destination and the busier part begins.
People gather in a winding line that ebbs and dies depending upon the
time of the day. Sometimes we go stand in the queue again and again
because the first time bhattar mama frisked us away! Everyone takes some
offering and they patiently perform all archana and harathi. More
importantly we go to see Him in all His glory and so beautiful to look
at for this is the closest you will ever be able to see Him at your
level (in height). You are but few inches away from the Lord. In all u
can but take only 10 steps to go around and once u do you have to get
down. You just started admiring His Thirumugam and u are already at the
other side. But wait- whose long decorated plait is this-His and the
back side of the crown oh even that is so pretty. And His vasthram has
been carefully placed as though a Raja is seated with the train flowing
half way down. 
	He wears such gorgeous anklets and upper arm bracelets made of kempu
and white stones and muthu with gold and kempu stones dangling
alternately. And then the most secretly desired moment is here- just for
a blink of an eye the bhattar is not watching you, there are very few
volunteers and people now attending or waiting and with your heart
thumping, you get to touch the corner of one of His vasthram! It is a
thrill only a child can get but nevertheless unforgettable. For all
practical purposes now u can reach God and He seems so much more
approachable - not like what elders used to say " ummachi kaNNai
kuththum". He is real to you, and you even think, "innikki ummachi
rombha azhagha irunthaLonO" not for a second realizing the enormity of
the Lord that u are trying to capture in your eyes! but such is His
Grace and hold on people who grow up in this town or come and have His
darshan. The queue grows and dies till about 6 or 6.30. By then they
begin to prepare for the evening veedhi purappadu which is done a little
bit more elaborately and He comes from the ThEr with such style! The
ThEr is gradually tented back with asbestos on all its sides and
completely covered. It seems so desolate now, but until the next year
the ThEr as much as the PerumaL linger in your memories.... 

In the coming mails I will try to describe as much of His festivals or
vahanams from a viewers point of view and more so that of a child!
Something to look forward to in real life, Guthirai vahanam of the
eighth day, Yanai vahanam of the sixth day, pallakku, Garuda vahanam of
the third day if u happen to be there at this time.

Kindly bear with me for the delay, any unintentional mistakes and if the
style in which this is written seems childish.

To Sampath Rengarajan and Vijay Triplicane special thanks for your kind
words and for the encouragement to write about my favourite deity and
for the amount of information I learnt through your posts and those of
others on the subject.

Thanks to all Bhakti contributors for your time and patience and
eagerness to share your knowledge. I only wish I could find more time to
read all of the mails and when possible expand on what I learn from u
all.

May Sri Lord Parthasarathy bless us all with His darshan soon.

Vaidehi V. Raja