Still after holy roots

Swept by divine wave.

Swept by divine wave.  

LIKE MIGRATORY birds coming to various destinations such as Vaedanthaangal, Kodikkarai or Koonthankulam during winter, a group of people from Sri Lanka air-dash to Tiruchendur every year to have a darshan of Lord Subramanya, prettily sitting on the beautiful seashore. Besides attracting devotees from all over the country, the Lord Subramanya Temple at Tiruchendur draws hundreds of people, mostly expatriated Sri Lankan Tamils, from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and even from Canada and London.

"Unlike in Colombo or any other part of the island nation, we, without fear, can apply the holy ash and the `kumkum' and wear either green or saffron dresses. We devote our week-long stay here to Lord Subramanya and witness the climax — `Soorasamhaaram' — every year," says Vaithialingam Mahendran (42), a Colombo-based hardware merchant, who has come over here for the seventh year in succession with a 15-member team.

Like this group, six more Sri Lankan teams came to Tiruchendur this year. Interestingly, the ancestors of most of these Sri Lankan Tamils settled in the island nation as plantation workers in 1860s from Thurayoor area in Tiruchi district. With sheer hard work of their forefathers, these devotees have now attained an enviable position in the Sri Lankan society, as they have become big shots in Colombo. V. Devaraj (41), who has come to Tiruchendur for the tenth time, has become a major supplier of hardware materials to the Sri Lankan Government enterprises, his friends proudly say.

All these devotees, either in green or saffron dresses, strictly observe fasting from the day of Deepavali to that of `Soorsamharam' to prepare themselves spiritually for the holy week. After the `Soorasamharam', they, before leaving for Tiruchi to visit their `kulatheivam' and their relatives, conduct `annadhaanam' on the temple premises and present a gift to the orphanage home, being managed by the temple administration.

"We, in deference to the request of the children and the administration, presented a television set, utensils, dresses etc. in the previous years and we'll continue this tradition this year too" says Subramanian Vasudevan (42), owner of a plywood showroom in Colombo.

Though they feel that cleanliness in and around the temple had improved a lot in the past few years, it should get better further, they say. "More toilets should be constructed around the temple for the benefit of the poor devotees coming from far-away places. And more importantly, the Government should strictly ban the sale of liquor, meat and fish around the temple, at least within the radius of one Km. All the offerings being given to the Lord by the devotees should come back to them again in the form of more and more facilities. More importantly, the system of `paid-darshan' should be abolished as every one is equal in front of the Almighty," appeals P. Muthukumar (42), owner of a famous saree shop in Colombo. He imports the cotton and silk sarees from Chennai, Mumbai and Coimbatore.

Despite the hurdles in commencing ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo, these devotees strongly believe that that the service would come into existence in the near future. "We can afford to spend for the air ticket and a brief stay here. If the proposed ferry service is started, hundreds of devotees from Sri Lanka will definitely come to Tiruchendur and feel real peace, which cannot be expressed in words," says Subramaniam Ravi (41).

From Sudhakar P in Tirunelveli

Photo: A. Shaikmohideen

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