It is indeed a celebration as Kapali becomes the cynosure of all eyes.

The Brahmotsavam of the Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore, Chennai, is “living heritage.” Year after year the tradition is kept not merely alive but vibrant.

At dawn on the third day, as always, “Adigara Nandi” that resplendent gigantic image, with the face of the bull, and a human form with four arms, bearing Siva... Kapaliswara and Parvathi... Karpagambal, on its expansive shoulder appeared at the eastern Gopuram entrance on the dot of six.

Moments of devotion

The anticipation is transformed instantly as thousands of devotees gathered lapse into moments of speechless devotion. And when the “Natanam” or dance is performed in a swaying rhythm by the dedicated bearers accompanied by the drummers, time stands still. Mythology was faithfully re-enacted, as Kapaliswara drew the faithful around Him, to mark another season of celebration.

I listened to the wonderful Mallari played by the young group of Nagaswaram artists. And I said to myself, even they cannot repeat this performance in an auditorium. Here they were like the gandharvas, the celestials who knew the rhythms of Siva's dance. The priests who have apprenticed with their fathers for generations know how to get the processional images decorated. Not at all an easy task. As Kumar Gurukkal who did this duty for years used to say... “I did not do it... The Lord prepares himself to greet his devotees in this royal regalia.”

The remarkable thing about living culture, such as this festival is that it draws, like a mythical magnet, a larger crowd every year. I saw the elderly, however infirm, armed with supports bracing through the throng. Young women were dressed grandly to seek the blessings of Ambal. There were youngsters form every strata of society, dressed in the modern uniform of T shirts and jeans, eager to participate. Kapaliswara is King for all times and only He can command enormous popular attention which is both sincere and spontaneous. If it is Mylapore, it is the Brahmotsavam for all times!