Temple Feast3 mins 441 3 mins 441
The three-year baby girl was busy licking the payasam drooping down her elbow which she tried collecting it from the banana leaf placed in front of her. Her one and half year old brother glared at her with wide eyes. The collyrium (kajal in Hindi and Kanmashi in Malayalam) marked across the eyes and eyebrows with a small mark on his cheek looked cute. It matched the black bangles, the ear-ring and chain his sister had put on matching the red and black polka dot long frock she wore. She had done justice to the Achar, Injipuli, Ellesseri, Kalan, Thoran, Avial, Kootacurry, Rice and Sambar served on her leaf. But it required four poppadum’s to reach the last morsel. This time I was serving Avial. The satisfaction devotee’s display when they finish the burp after the payasam is like the sound of gun salutes a soldier gets on martyrdom. As I served a little buttermilk the little damsel I casually asked if she was full...”Mmm “with a mouth full of buttermilk brought a wry smile on my face and a twinkle cheeky smile on her brother’s face.
The Annual Ayyappa Temple Festival which we had been part of in Thane was organized with much pomp and gaiety. Though out of Kerala, it was more authentic in its conduct that some in its own backyard in some cases. The chariot procession from Carvalho Nagar with canopies, lights, melam’s, the oracles, young girls carrying Thala polis, Elephant with the deity was a sight to watch. The 6-day festivities conducted earnestly culminated with a grand feast on the last day. There were daily cultural events and programs to mark the day end. Many of the cultures was taught to us by our parents by introducing them here. Thousands of devotees thronged the temple and lakhs on the feast day.
The feast was open to one and all. As the devotees enjoyed the meal, a news came that the temple needs to be shut down now for conducting special Pooja. The reason was the baby boy who was enjoying the bits of prasadam with his sister had urinated in the temple premises. The Mother had forgotten to replace the nappy pad and our champion had already committed his deed. Lots of stories floated around me now giving judgments and remedial actions for the parents. I saw a scare in the Mother’s eyes. Would GOD be so cruel to set such rules? Why is GO muthram (Cow urine) allowed inside a temple and a child who is supposed to be GOD’s blessings cursed for doing a natural act? Just then I could hear the head priest declaring the parihara pooja is completed. The parents heaved a sigh of relief and kissed the child in their hand. A beggar standing outside the temple gate who was watching all this was more interested when the feast leftovers would be distributed. The parents finished the payment for the Parihara Pooja but failed to give a penny to the beggars outside the temple.
While we watch and understand culture, grandeur, rituals and experience joy, these festivals also feed us some occult practices which are devoid of logic. While we enjoy the food we are also sometimes forced to be humble not to waste food as we see people who are by fate not lucky as you are. The feast ends and both the beggar and the child’s family return home. What is a blessing is an individual perspective, isn’t it? For the child, it was the kiss his mother gave, for the parent that no harm was effected to the child, for the beggar he had his fill. Festivals spread blessings in some form or the other but hopefully, these old endings will turn a new leaf and start new beginnings.