Friday, April 21, 2017

Srirangam Chitrai Garuda Sevai

A transformational change in the Melur Road 'Garuda Sevai' Procession 
In the 1970s and 80s, Melur Road at the Western end of Srirangam was an untraveled destination except for one day in a year when the residents of Srirangam would make their way as part of the Chitrai Brahmotsavam. There were no street lights in those days. The road off the Poundarikapuram Ashramam was just a mud road with rough stones through the 2km stretch to the Asthana Mandapam.

But the location was supremely serene with huge mango groves (especially being the peak season) and coconut trees dotting the entire stretch, with the expansive Thathachariar Gardens on the left (South) and groves on the banks of the Coloroon on the right (North).  On the third day of the Chitrai Brahmotsavam, Lord Namperumal would make a long 3 hour trip in the morning from his abode in Srirangam to the then largely unexplored village of Melur.

That evening, mounted on a majestic Garuda Vahana, Namperumal, flanked by the Mango groves on one side and tall Coconut trees on the other, made a joyful return trip amidst the cool breeze providing Garuda Sevai darshan to the devotees.

Last evening (April  20) the huge infrastructural transformation, in recent times, of this historical temple town was visible to those that had witnessed the Chitrai Garuda Sevai in the 2nd half of the last decade.

The huge groves that had lined up the entire Northern stretch is now gone having made way to large apartments. Through the Western end of Melur Road, one now finds beautiful colourful branded apartments with the occupants having moved in. This stretch at the far end of Melur is now likely to house several thousands of new residents. A previously uninhabited place, even a mini bus service has been introduced in recent times between Srirangam and Melur. Many of the new occupants, who were planning the house warming function of their branded new apartments the next morning, felt blessed that Lord Namperumal had provided darshan on the Golden Garuda Vahana on the eve of their big day. 
The entire 2-3kms stretch is now a tarred road with the Sri Patham Thangis now being able to make a swift move through to the Dasavatharam Sannidhi Street in a matter of under 30minutes unlike in olden times when their feet would burn under the strike of sharp stones. 
Lord Namperumal had reached the North Chitrai Street by 7pm and was welcomed by the large Ghosti that had gathered there to present the verses in praise of the Lord. He was back at the temple an hour later.

While the new Tar Road facilitating easy movement for the carriers of the Lord is a welcome addition as is the overall infrastructural development of the place that has now expanded far into the Western end of Srirangam and with the new ‘smallish/ mini’ Golden Garuda Vahana (so unlike the huge Garuda one has accustomed to), the nostalgic procession of the Lord mounted atop his favourite vehicle wading through the two huge groves in the evening procession amidst the large numbers of ‘Bandham’ (Ghee lit torch) was sorely missing for those who had experienced this utsavam in decades of the previous century. As he made his from Melur, Garuda seemed to slightly turn to the right as he passed the Thathachariar Gardens to show to his Lord in almost a thankful gesture of this huge mango grove on the South remaining largely unaltered. 

No comments: