Saturday, July 12, 2014
Many translations of such events refer to them as "Car" festivals. Yes, it is a vehicle no doubt, but I prefer to translate தேர் as 'chariot' rather than a pedestrian 'car'. This one is part of the Bhramotsavam of Sri Narasimha Swamy at Triplicane's Parthasarathy Swamy Temple. On the seventh day of the Bhramotsavam, the decorated chariot is taken around the streets encircling the temple, pulled by devotees.
Ahead of the chariot is the phalanx of mamas, in traditional Iyengar garb, reciting verses from the நாலாயிரத் திவ்வியப் பிரபந்தம் (Nalayira divya prabandham, four thousand divine codices). Ahead of them, maamis rush to put the final flourishes on their kolams before the கோஷ்டி reaches their doorstep.
It is a formidable sight, with the chariot being pulled at what can be considered break-back speed trying to catch up with the chanting crowd, while devotees prostrate before the கோஷ்டி or before the chariot, falling down and getting up at speed, without getting in the way of others. In times gone by, this procession would probably have taken half-a-day, stopping at several points along their short way. Today, it was over in a relative flash, within 90 minutes or so; that must have been a very rapid recitation of the divya prabandham!