“I look forward to ‘Thirukalyanam’ every year eagerly to serve the devotees”

For devotees who come to see the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Thirukalyanam every year, the 88-year-old frail man with a heavy fan made of peacock feathers is no stranger. “I have been fanning people who sit here for hours, waiting to see the ‘Thirukalyanam’ since 1959,” said M. Natarajan proudly.

As he makes his way through the sea of devotees on Saturday, many recognise him and give him money. “For me, the ‘Thirukalyanam’ is an extremely special event and I look forward to it every year eagerly, to serve the devotees,” Mr. Natarajan said.

He recalled and stated that he had seen the crowds who throng to watch the temple increase over the years.

“Till two decades ago, there wasn’t as many people. Even though the crowds have increased, so much is done to ensure they watch the ceremony comfortably.”

“Till two years back, there never used to be any air-conditioning in the mandapam. It used to be hot and stuffy. During those times people used to profusely thank me. This encouraged me to continue my service through all these years.”

While he stands near the Amman Sannadhi of the temple on Fridays, he has a packed week, where he travels to Palani, Tirupparankundram, Samayapuram and Tiruchendur on all the other days.

“I have peacock feather made fans in all these temples ready for my use. I also make it a point to travel to Tirupathi once every month and fan the devotees there,” Mr. Natarajan said.

At the ‘Thirukalyanam’ Saturday, Mr. Natarajan was one among six persons who manoeuvred their way around the devotees who were seated and kept fanning them.

“The energy he has at his age should be appreciated,” said S. Lokesh, a resident of Tirumangalam. “We have seen him over the years and he has always been cheerful and eager to greet the devotees, truly enjoying what he does,” he added.