When the trip to temples was proposed in the dinning time, my hands most naturally went for the head, which in turn bowed down a bit. Despair danced on my face. I was rather rattled, to the core. For some reason, probably the effect of reading some obscure philosophical books, I stopped being religious for quite a while. That ‘quite a while’ accounts for 2 years. Hence when sudden announcement of family trip to a series of temple near Tirunelveli and the compulsion of my participation was put forth , I slowly coughed twice and raised my objection. I, in fact wanted to be a dove of peace and recommended my family superiors ‘Why can’t we go to Goa and pretend that temple is there’. The problem in being a women, especially working women, and raising objections against noble deeds such as visiting temples near Tirunelveli is that, the women under discussion will be judged as a object of loath and such object in general will be given lots of advice in the name of reformation. Though my heart was with Goa, I didn’t want to be that advice-needing-detestable-object in the family circle, so after some sappy talks I succumbed.
Thus our morning of march 13th was at Tirunelveli. The gist of this great trip is to visit the “Arunjunai Katta Ayyanar Thirukkovil” near Ammanpuram and another abridged version of this temple at Virudhunagar. ‘In order to make the trip more effective,’ suggested our elders, ‘on the way to the destined place we should visit many Vishnu temples’. Mark my word, these are places even Google will end up saying – ‘Your search didn’t match any documents ‘. How my relatives found them out ? that’s a topic that needs tedious research. My suspicion is on a local astrologer who is in good terms with my uncle’s family. Whatever.
Of course, temples are not boring as religion always does. Putting aside the agnostic side, I let my artistic eye to appreciate the beauty of marvelous art, which had made South Indian shrines so unique. Nevertheless, one cannot let artistic eye stretch out infinitely. When the dose of temples increased dramatically, the artistic gleam wore out gradually and I blinked like an stuffed frog. In the course of journey, those who had got the close up face shot of mine, would have sensed the severe strain replacing the usual exuberance. I saw the same strain in some of my cousins too. On the same time, at the other side, my aged superiors were at top form busy doing rituals and collecting prasadams with the eagerness of Olympic medalist collecting his gold. At the night of 13Mar I wished I should be spared from temples tomorrow at least.
The next day was at Virudhunagar. I know sun is hot, but somehow at Virdhunagar, the sun was at its hottest with the intention of baking us in those bare roads. Thank fully, fate let its helping hand in the form of my cousin. He suggested to visit Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary near Srivilliputtur, a place cleverly planned to eliminate senior family folks . The end result, we cousins had our time. Of course the sun was hot, and squirrels especially the grizzled ones are not silly like us to wander at forest after lunching heavily. We spotted only a couple of deer and peacock in the 2 hour trekking. However, I enjoyed. With the restored mood, I even not hesitated to visit Srivilliputtur temple on the way back to hotel. With that our two day trip ended.