Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Still in Madras, we went to the first of several temple ceremonies we were privileged to witness on our trip. Walking through town, we looked down an alley and saw this sight-- which looked rather like a straw hat to me. In fact, it is a palm-leaf scaffolding that covers the top of the entry gate to a temple. The gate is being re-stuccoed and re-painted to restore it to the lively and colorful sculpture it has been in the past-- you can glimpse a bit of its glory in the lower center, underneath the palm fronds. Imagine the entire tower looking like that.
We removed our shoes and entered the temple complex. People were starting to stream in, in anticipation of the ceremony. In fact, the ceremony itself, done within the sanctum sanctorum, was so crowded that we could only glimpse the swinging, flaming chandelier-like object being flung about from over the shoulders of many people--no mean feat for someone as short as I.
Afterward, the temple resumed its usual tempo, a place to be with one's family... which included the priests being with their families, as the priest is here, playing with his toddler.
And men and women congregate to gab, gossip or perhaps commiserate, as people are wont to do....