Kapali Brahmotsavam History & Culture

Memories of Kapali festival

Devotees recall their long association with the mega Mylapore event

S. Harini Yogalakshmi has never missed a single Brahmotsavam over the last three decades. As a Mylapore resident during her entire school and college days, she was present every day of the festival. Harini and her brother would offer rose milk and buttermilk to devotees, who thronged the temple. Her favourite, however is Adikara Nandi. According to her, the majesty of Lord Kapali dressed in white and blue with Chandra Bhanam, his hand atop the Adhikara Nandhi is incomparable. The beating of the drums, fragrance of sambarani and the graceful slow movement of the bearers made this event most memorable. She also loves the ‘twisted tongue’ of Nandi and the Pinnazhagu (the beautiful rear decoration) of Lord Kapali.

Wedding took her to Erode but Harini never missed the festival. She recalls amidst laughter the first year after marriage when she came with her husband from Erode by Yercaud Express for the third morning of the Utsavam. Even before her husband could pay off the auto driver, she was running towards Adhikara Nandhi as the as the procession was approaching East Mada Street.

This year, she had prepared for a long vacation from March-end. “The annual exams were scheduled to end mid-March and I was eagerly looking forward to the Panguni festival. “I have to satisfied with the old pictures I have stored and what others circulate on Whatsapp,” she says.

Harini’s favourite location to have darshan is the 16-pillar mantapam, where she would wait for the procession to reach the Gopuram’s entrance. “It is special experience to have darshan of the Deepaaradhanai, when the deity dances His way to the 16-pillar Mantapam. with devotees lining up in large numbers either side of the Gopuram.” She also likes the Sripatham Thangis’ devotional steps during the Naga Vahanam on the fourth evening.

I never fail to visit Bommai Chathiram on South Mada Street, where old paintings and dolls are displayed. The biggest attraction for her is the ‘Yamaloga Thandanai’ portrait.

Vantage point

People have always believed that the Panguni festival of Mylapore Kapali temple provided them with positive vibrations, which energized them through the year. T.N. Venkatanarayanan, 53, is one of them. He heads a software firm in Mylapore and his family has been providing treatment for jaundice for well over a century. Having spent his childhood in the corner house on East Mada Street, diagonally opposite the chariot, he says the balcony of his advocate grandfather’s house probably offered the best view of the festival. Friends, relatives and devotees would flock his house in large numbers during the festival for this reason.

The Chariot festival and Arubathu Moovar of the 1970s and 80s remain vividly in his memory “It was sincere devotion, which made people travel even long distances to attend the festival. It was a great blessing to have had darshan of the procession on all the days from our house balcony, but the Chariot procession was something very special and almost unforgettable. Throughout my teenage years, I was blessed to pull the Chariot on all the four streets. They used to pour water on us from the house tops, to keep us cool.”

Story time

Venkatanarayanan remembers the Panguni Utsavam as the time when elders in the family would narrate the stories of the legendary Saivite saint poets to the children. So much so that by the time the Arubathu Moovar came up, the children were excitedly looking forward to the procession to catch a glimpse of the Nayanmars about whom they had heard so much. It was a great time to bond with people, observes Venkatanarayanan. Caste, creed and economic status all took a back seat during the ten days of the festival as friends united to work, worship and have fun.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2020 5:00:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/memories-of-kapali-festival/article31257780.ece

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