What a memorable trip I had, every bit of this trip was so fascinating and entertaining. This being the first time I am going to "Shabari Malai" I was extra cautious in adhering to the protocols and discipline; I know the GOD who is sitting in between those 5 hills is one powerful source who can punish you instantly. I was all excited on the day I took my train to Chalakudi a native place of one of my close friend's wife. After a very comfortable train journey I reached Chalakudi around 10 in the morning and my excitement and awe started right from the time I took an auto in the railway station. It took a solid 15 minutes to reach the house from the railway station and the amount the auto wala charged me made me feel dizzy, for that good 15 minute journey inside those crooked streets, he just charged at 21 rupees and when we gave him 25 rupees, he promptly gave back 4 rupees. I have a very interesting and a funny story to tell here, but I will reserve that as the last paragraph, that would be the highlight and I am sure you all would ROTFL after reading that, so till that time, waiteeessssss...
That house of my friend's wife's relative is way beyond my imagination, it is a palace by virtue of its huge size and what made it more special is its construction, it is that kind of a typical kerala house with those thatched roofs and a huge garden which literally floored me. It is such a scenic place to have a house in the middle of a green garden and one should have been really blessed to live in such a calm and serene atmosphere. Though I enjoyed every minute of my stay in that house, a deep thought made me realize that I cannot live in such a place for more than a week, that place is especially designed for old people and to me it is a paradise to them, if any one still blabbering saying "Bangalore" is "Pensioner's Paradise", please visit Kerala once, that is the true "Pensioner's Paradise". I had a very good and a delicious lunch that day, a typical kerala style food and we got ready for the big pooja we had that evening.
It was a very small and a simple pooja and it started at 6 and went on till 10, after that we had our dinner and I straight hit my bed as I have to get up at 1:30 in the morning and get ready for that wonderful journey to "Shabari Malai". Around 3:00 in the morning all the devotees gathered at one place and we were waiting for our bus to come, the total gang size was 28 and it was predominantly ladies and very few men and that too I and my friend were the only "youth" (ok ok ... chilll). The bus started at around 3:40 and we all touched upon various temples on our way to Shabari Malai. Every temple in Kerala has some uniqueness and it was fascinating to know more about every temple. That too the day we started to Shabari Malai, it was "Shiva Rathri" and every Shiva temple was flooded with devotees. After travelling nearly 7 hours we reached "Pamba" around 2:30 PM and sun was at its super best and it was super hot everywhere, I could literally feel the heat on my bare body and with "Iru Mudi" on my head, I told myself that I am up for some serious "challenge", the path to climb the hill to meet the ultimate GOD was not that easy.
The management has made some patch work of putting some rough CEMENT flooring all the way up till the hill top, the problem was that scorching heat, with a bare foot you cannot keep your feet on that hot surface, but the constant uttering of "Swamiye Saranam Iyappa" made everything easy and we did not feel any pain on our feet, and yes, that is the power of that GOD and his name, after climbing a good 3 hours we young folks reached the hill top and the elder and older ladies were not that bad, they reached us in just a hour later. In Shabari Malai there is concept called "Dolly" where 4 people would carry the devotees who are not physically able to climb all the way, they charge you some 1400 or so and carry those devotees on their shoulders by walking those rough terrain. To me they are next to GOD and I salute every "Dolly" who does that service.
We expected crowed to be there at the temple but when the heavenly doors opened at 5:30 PM, what we saw there was chaos, people were trying to squeeze in from every possible direction and there was a very long queue for use to climb the "padhinettaam padi" (18 steps) after a patient wait for 2 hours we got our chance to climb the "18 steps" and that experience is really tough to explain, you have to feel that. Once that is over, we then have to stand in another queue for nearly 2 hours to meet the GOD Iyappan, heavy rush made us go virtually tired but somehow the GOD gave us the strength to see him, after a very long wait, I happen to see Lord Iyappan, that 5 metal idol (panchalokam) primarily GOLD was glittering like anything and I felt as if my whole body is getting re-energized. I prayed for C, L, R, B, B, S, B.R & Family, C, S, Su, P & Family, S, P, M, S, M & H, B and all my other friends for their well-being, I treasure their friendship and their well-being is more important to me than mine. I would recommend all my friends to go there once and see that GOD, he will inject some energy inside you and you will feel super dooper fresh as like what I feel now.
That night we all stayed in M N Nambiyaar's guest house which we pretty neat and well maintained. I prayed in front of M N Nambiyaar photo and to me he is one human being who is clean and pure by heart and is a real gem of a person, so getting his blessing is not a bad idea. The next day (Saturday) morning, we all got up at 4 and then got ready to see the "Nei Abhishekam" (Ghee Abhishekam) for Lord Iyappan which is a very very special and a must see "Abhishekam" when you go to Shabari Malai, what else I can say other than, I went speechless when I saw Lord Iyappan being covered with ghee all over his body? That was a sight which I will not forget for years, all I would say is, I am fortunate to get a chance to see him and I thank him for inviting me to see him this year. I don't know when he will call me next time, but I will be very happy to see him again whenever he calls me.
OK, OK, now coming to the FUN part of the trip, I recommend all my reader's to read this when they are alone and not when they are at office, I will not hold any responsibility if someone sees you laughing and you being stamped "A Nut" at the work place. The fun started when few other members from an outside group joined us in the bus. Initially it was supposed to be a family trip with member only from my friends wife family but later those new folks joined us and we all got introduced and there was this old man who introduced himself to us and it is always nice to know new people naa, so Satish being Satish sat in between two of those new joinees and both of them were 65+ of age, since we all got up very early in the morning, we all felt very sleepy moment the bus started, but later people in the van said, we should not sleep and we should chant "Swamiye Saranam Aiyappa" and keep going, so there were continuous chants and we all were chanting together, at one point in time, folks were vocally tired and hence we stopped chanting and the bus kept moving.
When the entire bus was silent and sleeping the old man next to me started screaming "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and then the entire bus screamed "Saram Aiyapppaaaaaaaaaaaa", normally people will continue chanting that verse and they will not stop with one, but the old man who sat next to me stopped with just one and we all kept quite. After another 15 minutes that same old man screamed "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” and then the entire bus screamed "Saram Aiyapppaaaaaaaaaaaa" and this was followed by a very heavy release of poisonous Hydrogen Monoxide from someone who is sitting very close to me, the entire bus felt that stench and everyone turned backwards, and my friend spoke to me with his eyes and was asking "Is that me?" and I was nodding my head so badly and said it is someone who sits next to me and not know who. So the idea behind every screaming of "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" is to collect all those poisonous gases at the anal tip and fire it when the van screams "Saram Aiyapppaaaaaaaaaaaa". I was like "Idhu enna daa pudhu trendaa irukku" (What is this new trend man)
Me actually sandwiched between two old folks and I am not sure who that serial "farter" is, I was having a game plan to nab the culprit, the next time that old man screams "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee", I am going to shut his mouth with my hand and was very sure that, instead of "Saram Aiyapppaaaaaaaaaaaa", I will hear "tttttrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" sound, and I was gearing up myself for that courageous act, as I just cannot sit at the back when there is so much of stench that is revolving around. When I all geared up to hold the mouth of the gentlemen who was sitting on my left (as I have circled on him), there came two sounds from both left and right "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and the entire van except me screamed "Saram Aiyapppaaaaaaaaaaaa" and this was followed by a double dosage of poisonous hydrogen monoxide, and this time the folks inside the van really felt dizzy and everyone a kind of suspected three of us who were sitting in the back. I got so pissed off that people do not have the basic decency or courtesy I would say, to clean their bowels and come out. I was waiting for a break so that I can move away from those serial "farters" and try to get some fresh air and not "recycled air"
The bus stopped at a place for people to attend their nature call and this time the engine was switched off, my good old friend who sat on to my right sensed that people are getting up and starting to walk outside to relieve themselves and once again the same trick was applied, he was screaming "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" and to his shock, not one screamed "Saram Aiyapppaaaaaaaaaaaa" and the cat was out of the bag with a loud "ttttaaarrrrr ttttaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" (same rythm ok ... ) and there goes a loud laugh inside the van and people spoke to him in malayaalam insisting him to relieve himself very soon and he too said he has to. I was actually about to clarify him a chanting verse which reads - "Swamiyai Kandaal Moksham Kittum" (If you see GOD, you will get heaven), and it is not "Swamiyai Kandaal MOTION kittum", (if you see GOD you will get MOTION). The bus started after a brief break and after that shocking expose, there were no more "Swamiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" from that old man, what is the use anyways.
The bus stopped at the next temple and we all got down to have darshan and this old man said "Neenga poikongo, nyaan sattha avade velichu varu", (you all go inside the temple, I will go relieve myself and come) this one statement from that old man, brought smiles in all our faces. After nearly 25 mins we all assembled back into our respective seats and this time yours truly took a different seat sighting my ligament tear on the right knee and escape from that farting chamber. Everyone were there except that farting old man, and we all saw him running towards the bus, and you should see the expectation and the tension in the bus, we were all like nail biting as if Sachin Tendulkar is batting on 99, just to hear that one word from that old man saying "Its all done", moment he walked in one co-sufferer asked "Endha ... ellaam aachaa?" (what everything finished ah?), and with our heart beat raising for his reply he just shook his head towards left and right and said "onnum sari aagilaa ... vaayoo thaan pirinju" (nothing happened, it’s just gas)
I was like "Yov, vandi fullaaavume vaayoo thaane yaa pirinjuuuu" (Man, all that you were doing inside the bus is also that only naa) and for a moment he looked like "Devar Magan" Revathi to my eyes, You all remember that dialogue naa ? Revathi would say "Verum kaathu thaan varudhu ..." (Just air is coming), when the vehicle started to move after that disastrous news, everyone opened the windows and put their nose outside to get some fresh air like how dogs used to travel in car. In Kerala every temple has a concept called "Vedi Vazhipaadu" (Cracker Bursting Worship), that is, the person who wants to burst cracker should go to that counter and tell his name and the reason for which he wanted to burst a cracker, once that is said, the person would announce the same in the mike and somewhere you could hear a cracker bursting sound and they charge Rs 5 for that. I told my friend, why unnecessarily wasting Rs 5 every time, just tell everything to that old man, he will burst the same crackers inside the van, and it took a while for the laughter inside the van to settle.
Swamiye Saranam Iyappa .... :-)