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Updated: April 5, 2012 00:49 IST

Grand prelude to Mylapore's biggest festival

Deepa H. Ramakrishnan
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For CITY: The annual car festival at Mylapore Sri kapaleeswarar Temple. Photo: K_V_Srinivasan
The Hindu
For CITY: The annual car festival at Mylapore Sri kapaleeswarar Temple. Photo: K_V_Srinivasan

The four Mada streets resounded with shouts of devotees

Be it picking up seven plastic toys for Rs. 50 from a pavement vendor or choosing from a bundle of ‘kolam' stickers outside Indra Stores or buying liquid soap-filled containers to blow bubbles from, it's fun choosing stuff you don't really need. And this week, with the shops that have sprung up in Mylapore for the Arubathu Moovar festival at the Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple, there's no better time to indulge in unnecessary shopping.

D. Thilagavathy, a resident of Mylapore, was one of the thousands of devotees who had come to watch the car festival here on Tuesday. “Ours is a joint family and we bring all the children to the festival,” she said. “We are here for every occasion, including the Ther (Chariot), ‘Arubathu Moovar', ‘Panguni Uthram', and ‘ Adhikara Nandi'. The children ask for everything that they see. Each child will spend at least Rs. 100 on toys. We also enjoy buying them these things,” she added. Each time the chariot moved with the ‘uthsava' idols of Lord Kapaleeswarar and Karpagamabal, the four Mada streets resounded with the shouts of devotees. Water was sprinkled on the path of the chariot and several philanthropists distributed food, water, buttermilk and ‘paanagam' to the devotees.

When the temple car finally came to a halt, a winding queue of devotees waited to clamber onto it to get a better glimpse of the idols. I too, got onto the chariot along with my mother.

Two five-rupee tickets allowed us a few seconds of “proximity” to the gods. But it was a dangerous ride as there was hardly any space and one small misstep could lead to your hurtling down several feet to the ground. Able volunteers in the chariot stood minding every devotee who stepped onto it. After over four hours of following the temple car, the attention of the crowds turned to the vendors.

Adults too were enjoying the shopping.

With such variety on offer, it is hard to resist spending everything one has. You can pick up fake Kundan jewellery sets for Rs. 50, toy watches for Rs. 20 or Rs. 30 , Indianised Vuvuzelas that emit a deep booming sound when blown for Rs.10, and even earthen pots and pans. Visiris (handheld fans made of palm leaves), kumkum and thali charadu — considered auspicious sold the most, said a lady at the Srividya Manjal Kumkum shop.

Scholar Sudha Seshayyan says that the Panguni Uthiram Thiruvizha festival celebrated in most temples is very auspicious. “It is said that it was on that day that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi married, Lord Muruga and Devayani married and Goddess Mahalakshmi was born. The Arubathu Moovar festival is of special significance to the Kapali temple as of the 63 Nayanmars, Thirugnanasambandar is very important. He is said to have brought to life the daughter of Sivanesa Chettiyar of Mylapore.

The girl was called Poompaavai. She came to life after he finished singing a pathigam where he describes all the festivals associated with the Kapali temple. This festival also shows the importance given to devotion and devotees. The Lord will be pleased if his devotees are happy,” Dr. Seshayyan explained.

Somehow Mylapore seems to have become livelier and merrier. Perhaps it is in anticipation of Wednesday's festival when the 63 Nayanmars of Lord Shiva are taken out in a procession. On Wednesday, festivities at the temple will begin at 9 a.m. The procession of the idols will be at 3 p.m. and it will take at least four hours to end.


Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012

What is really a wonder that this is the festival celebrated with lakhs of commoners taking the children and enjoying every bit and no political party is in the lead.(unlike Sangamam)No governmental support.No cine actors.No cricket players.IPL being played elsewhere with huge money spent by the fans.It looks like a poor men entertainment with some religious touches. the The food supplied is free but quality and quantity of a high standard.All these happenings are because of the Eswarar at the center organizing according to his will.The TV media is busy otherwise and is missing a good chance of broadcasting good things 24/7.

from:  doodu
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 21:56 IST

I have stayed in madras for several years, as a student , and later in service. I have stayed In the Mylapore area and I have gone to the Kapaleeswar temple on a regular basis for divine grace. Today is PRADOSHAM and I am mentally at the temple and the luz corner Along with the several thousands of devotees who are there for the biggest festival in the City of Madras. I am grateful to the Presiding deity of the temple for helping me, while I was Staring at emptiness in life and when I faced real crisis in life. For this particular festival, many large hearted people used to give buttermilk, which I have taken and prayed for them For their good action. After leaving madras in the eighties, I used to go to the temple, whenever I used to visit the city. I am now physically in USA, but mentally there and I am enjoying heavenly bliss, after reading this news coverage. If my memory is right, I have also enjoyed the curd rice distributed by some devotees then .

from:  C.p.Chandra das
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 21:52 IST

Born, brought up and lived in Mylapore until a few years back. As a
kid, used to await for this time of the year - interestingly coincides
with end of school exams and the summer breakout.

The colourful toys, gypsies with their beads, monkeys and the very
many colourful things you could ever find. The street from Rasi silks
to the temple shaded covered with thatched roofs.

On the day of 'ther', I used to gaze in unflinched admiration the
beautiful act of flowers being scattered from those thatched roofs
using a long pull cord. A typical 'wired' remote control mechanism
that amuses me even now - unlike the very many wireless remote control
gadgets in daily use.

Life in Mylapore - no where else will it be the same. I now have just
one wish - when my time comes to an end, it will hopefully be in
Mylapore. A place that is truly heaven on earth.

from:  Nithya
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 16:54 IST

Being a past resident of Mylapore, enrolled in a school in Mylapore, Studied in a college in Mylapore, Got married to a Girl from Mylapore and visiting Kapali temple during Sojourn to Mylapore, we miss Mylapore a lot.

further, the earlier enthusiasm of seeing some of your Class mates, batchmates, School mates , neighbours, other common friends of Brothers and sisters during our sojourn in market places, Temples, hotels is not to be found ;
Asking the word " sowkiyama" to the associates is clearly missing.

from:  S Ramesh
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:18 IST

" Arubatthu Moovar" Nayanars lived and sang the praises of Lord Shiva wandering the nook and corner of this ancient land. For them the grand and magnificent temples were not less than heaven on the earth. It is the duty of each and every one living in this ancient land to keep the land neat and clean more particularly the vicinity of great temples. Devotion to cleanliness is equal to devotion to the Lord.

from:  Anthakudi Nagarajan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:54 IST

Why dont they make annadanam a part of the festival and give free food to the devotees. If free food is announced, lot of sponsors will be available. Some prasadam may be mixed with the rice so that it will be a prasada oottu. It need not be a feast like food, just rice, curry, and a poriyal will do. If a cup of buttermilk can be given that will be wonderful. A cup of sweet pongal or payasam will make it very grand. In the name of Kapaleeswarar, let the people take food, let the hunger be banished. Let the glory of the Lord Kapaleeswarar spread throughout the world. In Kerala temple festival is the annadanam festival. Many people come to sponsor either the whole food for the day, or one time food, or one item of food. Annadanam is the biggest offering to the Lord. If annadanam can be a permanent feature, that will be wonderful.

from:  Ramachandra Menon
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 10:22 IST

As someone who lived in South Mada Street, Mylapore for more than 40 years, here is an interesting piece of anectode:
Arubathu Moovar always falls on Pradosham Day. During the normal Pradosham, the deilties are taken around inside the temple. But on Arubathu Moovar day they are taken around 4 mada streets as part of the festival.
Now living in Chicago, I became nostaligic after reading this news item. We used to distribute Adhikara Nanthi photos, distribute badham kheer and neer more (watery butter-milk).

from:  Suresh Mahadevan
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 06:29 IST
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