I reached Trivandrum [in case you are wondering why I reached Trivandrum, read my previous post] by Saturday noon, met Sir and Mami, and then visited Chithi’s new home with Periammai. I also visited Harish’s place while I was in VKK Nagar.
Later in that day, I was lucky enough to ghoom around a little bit in Harish’s car. Saw many parts of the city as part of the task of “locating a Reliance Web world”. The places I chanced upon during that trip include a visit to NSS Public School after almost 10 years, Sarath’s place where we met his mother and saw his fiancees’ pix, the Shangumugom beach (looking as great as ever, if not better), the well maintained Beach road leading to All Saints College, the relatively new underpass constructed near Chandrasekaran Nair stadium (flashes of Mekhri circle underpass flashed our mind), the DPI Junction, and finally the Reliance Web world at DPI, where Harish was busy ;).
After finishing the browsing work (to book railway tickets on the net) we went to Jiju’s place, had a 30 min chat with him, and since it was getting late, rushed back home. Thanks Harish, for the wonderful Saturday evening.
The next day (Sunday) was Ayilyam day, and it saw me visiting Papps, Sir’s Ganapathy Temple, the Ananthankavu temple, and the Railway station before boarding the Chevrolet Tavera along with my parents, Sir, Mami, Periammai and Periappa, and Komi Mami.
We generally had a nice time during the trip, though there was bad news in the form of my Chithi at Nagercoil having fallen over in the Nagaraja temple during the morning darshan, and incurring a fracture in her leg in the process. We visited her on the way.
Sunday night we reached Courtallam, stayed in a hotel right opposite the Bus Stand (perhaps the best available hotel in Courtallam), spend the next morning catching up with my family God, Mr. Annavi Pillayar inside the Courtallam temple. During the afternoon, we visited Shankarankovil.
The next day we visited Ayikudi, about 15 km from Courtallam. It is my Appa’s native, where he spend his first 23 years. Incidentally it was only my second ever trip there, and the first one happened when I was about 8 or 10 years old. We visited the BalaSubramania Swamy temple in the Ayikudi village, and since it happened to be under the Kanyakumari Devaswom (as against Tamilnadu Devaswom) the way they conducted the various Poojas was simply fabulous. It was just like in any temple in Kerala (Pooja conducted with sincerity and dedication as against what I have seen in many temples in Chennai and Tamilnadu).
The highlight of the visit to Ayikkudi was the “Padi-poojai” that we performed that day. In essence, it involves preparing high quality Sarkara Payasam in liquid form, and distributing it to the localites by first cleaning the steps, and then pouring Payasam on the steps that lead down down to the River Hanuman, that flows (I thought the water was not quite flowing) beside the temple. There was a huge bowlful of payasam and it was over within no time.
I was sort of taken aback by what I saw — people drinking Payasam literally scooping it up from the steps using bare hands — and when I enquired with the Poojari there, got to hear the history. The system started during a time when there was more than ample flow in the river and when it used to be very clean. No one used to take bath there using soaps, or used to wash clothes there. In fact the belief is that Lord Balamuruga himself will join his devotees to drink the Padi-payasam.
It was a very fulfilling experience on the whole, as the Temple authorities helped us to distribute three huge bowlfuls — each of more than 100 Litres — to a local orphanage-cum-school run by “Amar Seva Sangam” about a kilometer away from the temple. Also this was the fulfillment of a promise made by my Paati (Appa’s mother) to Lord Balamuruga about 25 years ago.
On the way back, we visited Amar Seva Sangam, and then reached Courtallam, checked-out of the hotel and started off the return leg. The plan was that we will get down at Tirunelveli to catch the Ananthapuri Express on its way to Chennai. We reached Tirunelveli where the ladies wanted to do some small shopping, and I used that spare time to visit Sundar Anna and his family.
We finally parted ways at the Railway station, and Sundar Anna was kind enough to come to the station to meet Ammai. I was one tired soul by the time I reached Chennai on Wednesday morning, and I was really happy that I had taken that Wednesday off too. The Trivandrum party reached home that night.
Thus ended the Courtallam and Ayikkudi trip 2006. As already noted above, it was a very good trip on all counts.
Thanks for reading thus far. Take care and be well.