There was never a short of festivals when you are growing up in rural areas. More so when you are close to river, in the banks of perennial river Periyar. People from across the district come to our village for cleansing the idols before the pooja.
Often, apart from priests the group also contains folk dancers and instruments. They are attention grabbers alright. In their colourful clothes and music that makes you tap your feet, it sure is a sight to behold. Sometimes you will even see beautifully adorned elephants too. It even makes you forget that you were irritated with deafening loudspeakers that never seem to stop.
When I moved to cities – Chennai and now Delhi – I kind of missed it. Cities of course do not have the charm of rural towns. So it made me nostalgic when I got to see the procession that my teenage self was familiar with. That familiarity was nostalgic.
During auspicious months, people from Kanyakumari take paal kudam (milk pot literally) as an offering to presiding deity in temples, when what they have wished for is fulfilled. This procession generally heads to Kumarakoil (Lord Murugan), sometimes Thiruchendur or Mandaikaadu amman temple.
The devotees take bath in the river, dressed usually in colours of red or yellow, carry the pot filled with milk on their heads. Sometimes people pierce their tongues or cheeks with sharp object like a Vel, a divine javelin and weapon of Lord Muruga albeit smaller in size (This was banned and there is lobbying going around this). They walk all the way to the temple, some taking few hours to few days. It gives you goosebumps when the horde of people scream the name of deity, with the rest following.
Despite the colour, sound and noise that accompanies these festivals, the entire scene somehow is serene. It makes you smile. It is home.