Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seeveli - Elephant Procession At Vaikom Temple, Kerala

Seeveli at Vaikom Mahadeva temple! Click on the pictures to have a better view please.
A relative of mine is from Vaikom (Kottayam, Kerala) and she had been asking me to attend the famous Vaikkaththu Ashtami festival at the ancient Shiva temple there.  As you know by now, I am a fan of elephants and was happy I attended this festival, because the main attraction of this festival is Seeveli - the procession of the temple deity (Utsava murthy), on the temple elephant.  

The temple is quite huge and the details of the temple is here.
Vaikom Mahadeva Temple.
The temple is believed to be built in Treta yuga. The area of the temple is huge and very well maintained - mainly, it was very clean even during the 12 day festival with so much crowd attending it.  The main deity - Shiva linga is 6' high with ornaments for eyes, nose etc.  The details are in the above link. I went there in the middle of the 12 day festival in November last.  The whole town had a festive look with many pavement shops on the roads surrounding the temple.  The temple had a huge auditorium where dance and music programmes held from morning to night continuously.

Dance programme at the temple. I couldn't get a place even to stand and watch!

I was there for two days and went to the temple three to four times.  I saw the crowd like this, nearly all the times!  In this age of cinema and TV, I was surprised to see so much crowd coming to the temple and watching dance and music (classical music) programmes. My niece also gave a programme of classical music here, her first stage performance, alone (she had performed in her college earlier, though).

The round garbha gruha is covered by this mural paintings of stories from mythology. I took this picture...a better version is given below!

The very very old mural paintings were redone and the details are here.  I got the above picture from here

Vaikom Shiva temple is considered as one of the largest and the oldest of all Kerala temples.  Vaikom Mahadeva Shiva Temple, along with Eddumanoor Shiva Temple and Kaduthuruthy Mahadeva Temple, is considered a powerful trisome! We visited all the three temples before Uchchi Pooja (before noon pooja), which is very auspicious!

As in Vaikom temple, Eddumanoor temple also had round garbha gruha and beautiful mural painting on the wall!

I noticed one more custom here! Normally, we do pradakshina (walking around the temple) in a complete circle.  Here, we were asked not to cross the place where the water from the garbha gruha is let out.  We had to go back and complete the other half of the circle!

This is called 'poram vilakku' (outside lamp).  This is kept in the praahara of the temple.  If we pay certain amount of money, the temple authorities will light the diyas in our name! It is fully booked for the next two years, it seems! Looks beautiful!
The outside praahaara of the temple.  Many people were carrying their footwear in their hands!
All sides of the temple walls were lighted with diyaas like this in the evenings.  It was drizzling on the day of my visit - you can notice it!  So, less lamps were burning.  Simple architecture unlike Tamil nadu temples but clean.  No pesterings from the priests or other employees of the temple too! I was in a very happy mood here mainly because of this reason.

The elephants are waiting here to join the procession, until the main elephant gets ready!

The main elephant, which is the elephant of this temple with the uthsava murthy on it!  I noticed that the elephants were fed often during the waiting period!
Uthsava murthy means, a miniature of the main deity.  Most of the Kerala temples have got their own elephants.  During Vaikkaththu Ashtami festival, the elephants from the surrounding temples too join here. We see around 7 elephants in the picture.  12 elephant procession is conducted on the 12th day, I was told.

Ankush for controlling the elephant!
I noticed the ankush with every mahout but they were not raised/used, even once when I was watching.  I saw many policemen inside and outside the temple.  The policemen who were on duty inside the temple were wearing dhoti and angavastra with a neck band which had a 'Police' tag! They were very polite while asking the devotees to move on!

Most of the people of the town never cooked at home during the festival days, it seems.  The prominent people of the town fed people in different places every afternoon.  Typical temple festival! Once my relatives lost me in the crowd...I was going behind the elephants with the camera and they were worried worried for sometime! I must go back again and watch the 12th day festival of Vaikkaththu Ashtami next year!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday!


Edited to add on 19.1.12: Please don't forget to read my friend, Ugich Konithari's beautiful lines in the comment section! I am overwhelmed!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Noiseless, Pollutionless Holiday Story, Part III - Green, Green, Everywhere, At Munnar!

This post about our trip to Munnar, is due for the past few months! This is my first post for the new year!

When I said 'Green, green, everywhere', I meant can see the proof in the pictures below!

This is the bungalow, called Nettikudi bungalow, where we stayed! The picture was taken from the backside road, when we went for an evening walk!

View from the Bungalow!

Partial view of the bungalow! The picture of the giant butterfly was taken from the left side roof of this bungalow!

Full view of the bungalow! We loved this secluded place without any interference from the outside world...heaven! Not even street lights were there in the evening!

We went to Munnar, after visiting Aathoor.  I had written two posts on the above title and posted a couple of pictures also from Aathoor and Munnar here.  We didn't visit the normal touristy places (visited Top slip and Kannan Devan tea factory, that is all!) but stayed at the bungalow we had booked and enjoyed the surroundings! Sometimes it was drizzling and quite cold but not unbearably cold. We went for long walks on the narrow roads which were meant for just the jeeps which were taking the labourers for plucking the tea leaves and taking the bags of the day's collection of the plucked leaves in the evening!

This is an old typical English Bungalow, which was built in 1927,  for the Tea Estate Managers.  You can read more about this bungalow with pictures, here!
They have got 3 rooms with old type furniture with clean linen.  Our family and our friend's family took two rooms.  One had renovated bathroom and one had old type bathroom...! The dining room had good cutlery and the food (vegetarian) was quite good! We still remember the taste of the Tea, they served there, which was very good! The staff were polite and seemed to work there from many years from generations! Have a look at their kitchen:

They use this choolha even now! They had a huge boiler in the corner too, which supplied water to the rooms! The light switches were of the old type, in the kitchen... round black one!

This old picture was there at the reception!

The beautiful dining room!
The front lawn of the bungalow! My husband and his friend were exercising here in the mornings!
The 'walking' bird!
The bird in the above picture was walking all the time! I saw it flying only to the beam of the building and started walking there again with a funny sound!
I didn't see much birds except the bulbuls, some humming birds and koyals! Majority were bulbul birds.  I am very fond of them and feel them like members of our family, the reason is here!

Now, to the sceneries! Nature at its best!

It was drizzling most of the time.  We saw these clouds in the mornings and evenings and sometimes, in daytime too!

Green, green...!

It looks as if the clouds bit the mountain partially!

Again, the clouds, mountains and valley!

Tea pluckers!

We saw these wild elephants on our way to Top Slip. 

We don't have good photographs from 'Top Slip', a beautiful place at Munnar.  It was cloudy or drizzling and the pictures were hazy.  Went for elephant rides.  Found a Jain hotel for lunch, where the food was quite good. Came back, played cards, had a good chat and slept comfortably! A typical holiday!

Now, have a look at a small clip of the video, we took it there! Click on the pictures to have a clear picture!

You can watch this video in higher quality on YouTube

Edited to add (11.1.12): The video was taken from the front side of the bungalow.  It starts from the narrow lane, which is the way to the building.  As I told you, it is situated in a remote area, pollutionless   area! At 1.26 mts. you can see a beautiful white patch in the right side top corner, which is a waterfall!
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