A Sabarimala trip which happened 6 month ago.
It was decide to board the Malabar Express on a December night to Chengannur. Had to wait at railway station. There were enough and more mosquitos to keep me awake. Checked my weight ,it was 70Kg,checked also the suitcase,it weighed 11Kg. There was a cute and healthy looking dog with a policeman. Didn’t know why it was there.but it was very silent. Barking dogs seldom bite,this dog seemed to be capable of ripping a the limbs apart from the body. Then the train came.
Got into the train the RAC was confirmed to berths, I got the upper one. It was not so cold inside the train and the mosquito count was also less. I didn’t use the sheet.I had taken,to cover myself. Alarm was kept for 0530.When TTE came I asked him whether he could wake me up,he refused.
At 0530 I was up . I just roamed about the decide to stand near the door. Other’s were sleeping, I felt like humming a song. When I opened the door very cold wind rushed in the train was late and was trying to catch up with time. The all pervadsing darkness was getting lifted. I could make out the coconut trees in the semi-darkness . A misty cover hung over the abundant coconut trees outside. At the door I watched the sunrise. In between I just glanced at the doorway. I thought I saw a familiar figure in between two bulky policemen. I tried to smile,got no reaction from the other side. The figure in white and white went to the toilet. I asked one of the fatty whether it was our Chief minister V.S.Achuthanandan. He replied”yes”. At the next station I saw more and more police on the platform. The reason for the cute dog’s presence was clear.
The policeman asked me my whereabouts and my destination. I replied with due respect. I queried about the CM’s destination.He answered”To thiruvananthapuram”. Accompanied by the policemen the white and white dissappeared into the AC two tier coach. I had seen him really close ,just less than 2 feet. WOnderful.
After some phone calls I headed to the Mannar panchayat. There was a marriage function to be attended. Before the function I got the opportunity to visit the Thrikkurutti Mahadeva temple. A very nice temple with lot of free space.the Banyan tree in the front , I felt represented the unity of all human beings,the unity of all religion. For the base was thick, it got divided into two after some height from the base, then it spread into uncountable number of branches. After the function, and the banquet. Then came back to main course of the journey.
Planned to stay at Guruswami’s house in the evening. The next day we were to head to sabarimala. The Guruswami’s house was very near to the Pamba river. The sound of the small waterfall was mistaken to be that of rain. I had a dreamless sleep.
Got up after a quick prelimnaries. Went in jeep to Pamba river. At first I didn’t want to take a dip due to hundred reasons, I may get cold, fever, fungus in ears, etc. So I carried a bucket to take water and pour it over the head. As I got out of the jeep my knee-shit the jeep’s door, got a pretty good swelling (never mind). Went to Pamba. After pouring three bucket full of cold water over my head, I felt like taking a dip. I took one with my glasses on and holding one of the nearby fellow;s hand. Great feeling, Great experience. Taking a dip in a holy river for the first time!
Woke up at 0400 at headed to Pamba to take a dip, so that we need not spend much time at the Pamba en route. The Swaraj Mazda with all decorations was ready for the trip. I got a comfortable place. We started on some devotional songs. Everyone sang in chorus repeating from the Guruswami. My mom had insisted on me to use a monkey cap.i didn’t take it from my bag. Had my shirts collar buttoned. There was a brief stop at a tea shop just to energise everyone, I didn’t have the tea. Entering Pamba, I saw the crowd, I saw the river, the shops, heard the announcements. The way up was busy and crowdy. Climbing up the hill, I tried to walk fast , and felt like I could carry myself up all the way, I was advised to take small patient steps.
The PeriyaSwami had some hold in the police so we didn’t have to stand in the queue. “Apachimedu” and “Saramkuthiyal” all passed. Atop, First saw the PambaGanapathi idol, looked like what my grandma’s decoration. Great.
Towards the sannidhanam. I had by coconut ready to be broken. But somehow I had a bad feeling of my mundu (dhoti) getting loosened,tightened it up. Everybody wanted to touch the 18 holy steps. I touched the first three then one in between, mundu loosened, my hand got stuck with somebody else’s, the towel was now over my eyes. The police was “helping “me up. I stopped where I was, tightened the mundu again . I had actually stepped on my mundu-that was why it loosened.Everyone in my group were already up there.
I realised that I had lost my handkerchief (never mind). I was fortunate enough to get VIP Darsanam. After all other rituals,we got out. But three from our group were in the original queue, they missed the quick path. They were asked to get out of the queue and go by the easier path. The rest of us decided to have food. The waiter said that they will provide meal only at the three rows at the other end, we were asked to go and sit there. I was not really hungry. The head of our group got angry, because there were small children who were really hungry and tired after the long journey. We all got out. Then at the exit a man said that we had to go by the queue near the cashier. Everyone got angry and fired at the restaurant people. There was something like a goat, (or was it a donkey?) . Trying to move away quickly, my Irumudukettu fell down.
After the row we headed to the only other restaurant there. This one was not as neat as the earlier one (who bothers?) I was hungry now. We demanded them to serve us where we sat. The restaurant people had to comply. The meal was a bore to many, manageable for me. The late three had appeared , after their lunch we started back. For me there was a bus in the morning 0530 . Stayed at the Periyaswami’s house.
I got a window seat, the wind was cold. I saw the Vavaru mosque, people moving with colours all over them. After some time I had an uneasy feeling. I had my monkey cap, shirt buttoned up to collar still it was cold. I saw the Amar Jyothi college of engineering. There was some kind of reading room (there was no room though), Somemen were seriously reading newspapers. Devotional songs were being played through the speakers. At 0700 the bus stopped at a stand. The song had changed to “adipoli-dappankuthu”. Songs from the Tamil film “Pokkiri” were being played. That must be real management and marketing.
A nice journey not to be forgotten.
originally posted on Jun 21/2008