Saturday, January 30, 2010

Matanga Lila - an interlude at Ernakulam!

It's utsavam time at the Ernakulam Siva Kshetram

The 5 days I spent at Ernakulam recently were among some of the heavyweights (literally!) of the pachyderm scene in Kerala. The occasion was the annual festival of the Ernakulam Siva Temple - which had been an integral and exciting part of my childhood, and which I had not attended for the last 10 years. I have been increasingly realizing that all the efforts I have been putting into teaching here at Manipal for more than a decade is nothing but a jalarekha - a line drawn on water. Indifferent students and an indifferent system are not exactly chicken soup (or even kaadi vellam!) for a teacher's soul...

Cheriya Chandrasekharan takes a quick shower

Cherplasserri Sekharan, however, gets a thorough going over..!

It is indeed high time that I took my mind off unrewarding activities and concentrate on all those that give me joy! So there I was, all worries about design reviews and recalcitrant students thrown to the winds (of change!), taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the fairground at the Ernakulam Siva Temple. Spending hours beside each of the elephants tied up at the Ernakulathappan grounds, re-living those early childhood aspirations of one day becoming a mahout; watching the elephants have their daily bath; then the decking up with Nettipattam and the rest of the works; and of course, the kazhcha shiveli every day culminating in the grand ezhunnellippu of 11 elephants on the day of the pakalpooram. This time the pakalpooram featured elephantine stars like Tiruvambady Sivasundar, Guruvayoor Valiya Kesavan, Tiruvambady Cheriya Chandrasekharan, apart from the other elephants that were on duty throughout the festival - Cherplasserri Sekharan, Puthuppally Kesavan, Devaswom Gireesan, Madhurappuram Kannan, Shenoy Chandrasekharan, Tirumala Devaswom Gajendran, Ganesan and Babu.

Gireesan daydreaming at the Ernakulathappan grounds

Shenoy Chandrasekharan (in foreground) and Sekharan get decked up

The caparisoned elephants go in through the western gate of the temple

Devaswom Gireesan and Cherplasserri Sekharan with their mahouts Venu Chettan and Unni Chettan

The elephants await the arrival of the "big three"

The colourful umbrellas for the kudamaattom

The aalavattomThe big three arrive: Tiruvambady Sivasundar maneuvers into position

The big three! (Valiya Kesavan, Sivasundar and Cheriya Chandrasekharan)

The lamp that is lit in front of the elephants during ezhunnellippu


Let's heed their plight too...

I was sorry as hell when it all came to an end and I had to head back...

After the festival: the fairground on the morning after the pakalpooram

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