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Thursday, May 14, 2015

T'mala!

Long serpentine queue. Sweaty and hot weather. Weird, light-headed feeling of a tonsured head.The joy of wearing a new dress.( I still remember the colour of my silk skirt a mauve one with a dark blue border, a gift from my maternal grandpa for my first tonsure.) All the while holding on to my mother as tightly as possible.

The pitch and tempo of the chants increased as we neared the sanctum sanctorium.That's when the push came to being-pulled-out by my parents. I realised I had missed seeing Lord Balaji, distracted in trying to figure out if it was "Jaragandi" or: Jagarandi", so that I could chant along.

Yes. I thought "jaragandi" was the chanting mantra for Lord Balaji until someone enlightened  me that it  meant " Move " and at Tirupathi it  literally meant "move forward.". It could well be a befitting mantra for life.
Several years and several trips later now I exactly know where to look for that brief glance of a "darshan " in all his glory.

The recent trip, being the first with my grown up kids proved to be a breeze compared to the ones with them as infants, toddlers loaded with input and output paraphernalia. I mean the diapers and baby food.

We had a smooth and safe journey, and the darshan was over within an hour in a fast moving but long queue.It is a matter of metro Karma that we took more than two hours to reach home from Old Madras Road at Bangalore returning from Tirupathi.

Magnificent temple. Awestruck by the way they manage the crowds and maintain a good standard of cleanliness, next only to godliness. 
One cannot miss the facilities that are being continuously enhanced for the sake of devotees every now and then.Air-conditioning at many stretches of the queue, clean drinking water, steady supply of buttermilk by Tirumala Dairy and comfort zones all along the queue.

I still remember my son asking us a few years back at a temple if what we are paying for special darshan is akin to a bribe. While we reasoned with him that it is an accounted transaction and as such not.
The unaffordability of a premium by several other devotees for a special darshan, in this case, a quicker one, tugs at my heart always.But we moved on with the Indian apathy, as I like to call it.

I hope and pray for a fully automated travelator system in the years to come towards a guilt-free single queue.

Our guide from APTDC only added more zing to the trip with his linguistic talents.
I was born and brought up in Madras ( now Chennai). Having lived in Bombay ( now Mumbai), Bangalore( Now Bengalooru)  and Hyderabad, I could perfectly understand his confusions, I mean conversations.
"Nimage Extra Ladoo prasadam kavalante, mujhe Cheppandi", which translates to " If any of you would like to have extra Prasadam, do let me know ."
Tamizh, Telugu, Hindi, English and Kannada all in a sentence. Multi-lingual, literally.

AndhraPradesh Tourism Development Corporation and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation are easily one of the best modes to Tirupathi. Especially if you are short on time .Ensures luxurious travel with excellent customer care and service and assured fast darshan as they have a daily quota for special darshan.
After a hearty darshan that lasted a  full 30-40 seconds, tummy and mouth full with the Prasadam we marched out triumphantly while admiring hundreds of tonsured beauties.A clean shaven head must be quite liberating, and some of the women  who had tonsured, looked stunning,

One never gets to see the full temple layout or the big picture of the temple, and that is my only regret.All I can think of are the long queues and a hurried darshan and forgetting what I wanted to pray for.
Thanjavur Brahadeeswarar temple still offers that big picture. More about that in my next post.
And here is a bonus piece for those who patiently read this! A collection of short stories by writer.Sujata .
The fifth story is about T'mala or Tirumala one of his earliest sci-fi.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/00ks0jhpxe9o4v9/Sujatha%27s%20Short%20stories%20..lnk?dl=0
Enjoy .