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NEWSLETTER

C o n n e c t i n g V a a s t u t o t h e 21s t C e n t u r y
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EDITORIAL

jyotisha
- Jyotisha
Nava Graha

Welcome to the March 2013 issue of Vaastuyogam.

- Corporate Logos
Parle-G Biscuits

- Vedic India
Kumbh Mela

In response to regular and repeated requests from


readers, to explain Indias age old festivals,
pilgrimages and customs in pictures and in text.
Vaastuyogam , this month, carries in-depth articles
on Kumbh and Navagrahashas.

10

The problem is that Hindu ways and means have


stayed undocumented or lost in arcane texts known
only to reticent individuals praying silently in the
carved corridors of ancient temples. The cut-andthrust of modern lifestyles has pushed our scant
knowledge of our ancient customs even further into
the shadows.
It is our mission at Vaastuyogam to research this
deeply interesting and useful knowledge and make
it accessible in English to the public at large.
Our two articles one on The Kumbh Mela and the
other Belief is Relief on the grahas and their
propitiation at the Navagraha Stallams around
Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, hope to achieve
these very objectives.
The Kumbh is the worlds single largest religious
congregation and in the words of Mark Tully is an
awe-inspiring demonstration of simple piety.
Those lucky enough to visit the Mela know this to be
true.
Happy reading.

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Introduction
This article is part one of a two-part full-length
feature on the Navagraha Sthallas - unique
temples around Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, that
are dedicated to the worship of the Navagrahas
(nine planets). Each one of these Navagrahas
temples is dedicated to individual graha. This
article provides information about the Navagrahas
and these one-of-a-kind nine temples. It contains
details of each Navagraha and the astrological,
mythological and historical angles associated with
its temple.
What are the Navagrahas?
The Navagrahas, nine grahas or celestial bodies
are :
Surya (Sun)

Chandra (Moon)

Mangal (Mars)

Budha (Mercury)

Guru (Jupiter)

Shukra (Venus)

Shani (Saturn)

Rahu & Ketu (The two nodes of the Solar


and Lunar eclipses)
Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are not included in the
Navagrahas either because they were probably
not known to exist or were thought to be too far
away to exert any influence.
For the believer Navagrahas permeate all aspects
of life. The Navagrahas occupy a unique niche in
the Hindu pantheon. The Navagrahas are neither a
part of the triumvirate of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
and nor a part of other major deities of Hinduism
like the goddesses Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati
or other deities such as Hanuman, Ganesh and
Kartikeya.
continued on page 2

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BELIEF IS RELIEF
The Navagrahas and The Nine Unique Temples in Tamil Nadu Dedicated to Their Worship.
- Part One
1

jyotisha
The Navagrahas move in the celestial
sphere with reference to the stellar
constellations known as Nakshatra. There
are twenty-seven Nakshatras which are
repeated in the Hindu calendar every
month. The movement of the Navagrahas in
respect Nakshatras are said to control a
persons destiny including his/her thoughts
and deeds, status and prosperity.
The Navagrahas are considered to be
intermediaries between the principal deity in
the temple almost always Shiva and the
worshipper. Each of the Navagrahas is in
charge of specific areas that concern the
devotee. It could be health, wealth,
knowledge, marital bliss and just about
anything about everything else.
The Navagrahas are said to affect the
physical and mental condition of human
beings. They are considered to have
malevolent as well as benevolent influences
on the day-to-day activities of the individual.
It is deemed to be in ones best interest to be
in the good books of the Navagrahs and
never ever to provoke them. It could be
solving a petty problem or a major
encumbrance it is believed that worshipping
a specific graha for a specific need will get
the devotee what he craves.
Each graha is assigned a specific day of the

week to ensure remembrance and worship.

Usually people wear Navaratnas in the form

For Surya it is Sunday; for Chandra it is

of rings. The positions of planets keep on

Monday; for Mangal it is Tuesday; for Budha

changing, accordingly the dasa and

its Wednesday; for Guru it is Thursday; for

mahadasas of the planets. Astrology says

Shukra it is Friday and for Shani it is

that the malefic effects of Planets can be

Saturday. No day of the week is specifically

balanced by the effect of beneficial planets

associated with Rahu and Ketu because

when one wears the Navaratna Jewellery.

Rahu and Ketu do not have any physical


presence.
Each graha has assigned to itself a specific
color, grain, metal, vehicle and gem-stone.
For instance, the colour for Surya is red; the
grain for Chandra is paddy; the vehicle for
Budha is a horse; the metal for Shukra is
silver and the gem for Shani is sapphire.
Of the Navagrahas Mangal (Mars), Shani
(Saturn) plus Rahu and Ketu are said to be

Navaratna Gemstones and their Planetary


Representations
1) Ruby Manikkam or Manek Lord Surya
or Sun
2) Pearl Moti Lord Chandra or Moon
3) Red Coral Moonga Lord Kuja or
Planet Mars
4) Emerald Marakatam or Panna Lord
Budh or Mercury

malefic.
Navaratna Nine Gems in Hindu Astrology
Navaratna is a Sanskrit word which means
nine gems and is related to the nine
planets or Navagraha in Hindu Vedic

5) Yellow Sapphire Pukharaj Jupiter or


Lord Guru
6) Diamond Heera or Vairam Venus or
Lord Shukra

astrology. The word Nava means nine and


Ratna means gem. Each gemstone is
related to one Graha among the Navgrahas.

7) Blue Sapphire Neelam Saturn or Lord


Shani

Navaratna gemstones are considered


auspicious and believed to give good health,
prosperity, happiness and peace of mind to
those who wear it. It protects against
negative energies or malefic effects of
planets and strengthens the positive
influences of the gems.
Diamond, ruby, emerald, blue sapphire and
pearl are named as Maharatnas as they are
considered to be superior to other gem.

8) Hessonite Gomedh Lord Rahu


9) Cats Eye Vaiduryam Lord Ketu
Worship of the Navagrahas
The Navagraha pujas are mostly performed
at home by engaging a knowledgeable and
senior priest. It is also a tradition especially
in the southern India to install Nava
Grahams on a platform in a separate
continued on page 3

Navagraha, British Museum originally from Konark, Orissa. From left: Surya, Chandra, Mangala, Budha, Brihaspati, Shukra, Shani, Rahu, Ketu

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enclosure in Shiva and Devi temples. In
most of the Shiva temples, particularly in
south India, one can see the Navagraha
shrines worshipped as secondary deities
enshrined in a corner of the temple.
However, in the state of Tamil Nadu there
are nine unique temples to be found in a
radius of 70 kilometers around the temple
town Kumbakonam that are dedicated to the
worship of each individual of the
Navagrahas.
The nine planets are invariably found in
every Saiva temple in South India. In many
North Indian temples they are depicted on
the lintels of doors, to protect the temple and
all those who enter it. They may also be
housed in a separate Mandapa (a small
pavilion) or at least a platform where the
images of these nine Grahas are installed in
such a way that no two of them will face each
other. It is sometimes stated that the images
of the planets are set up in the temples in the
order in which they are in the
zodiacal circle at the time of
the construction of the temple.

located near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.


Each of these Navagraha shrines is situated
in a different village, and is dedicated to one
of the 9 Navagrahas. That is, the first temple
Sooriyanar Kovil is dedicated to Lord Surya,
while the second temple Thingaloor
Chandra Navagrahastalam is dedicated to
Lord Chandra likewise. However, an
interesting aspect is that majority of the
temples enshrine Lord Shiva and his
consort goddess Parvati are the primary
deities though they both have different
names at the different temples.
The Navagraha Temples of Tamil Nadu are
located in Nagapattinam, Tiruvaru and
Thanjavur Districts. This lush green district,
through which the Cauvery flows, has these
nine Shiva temples. Each of these temple
enshrines a Navagraha. Six of the
Navagraha temples are situated on the
northern bank of Cauvery and three on the
southern bank.
Age of the temples
There is unfortunately no way of dating
these temples (except Suriyanar Koil which
was built in 1100 AD) due to lack of concrete
written evidence. We can only go by
circumstantial evidence, one method being
the compositions of the Nayanmars who

composed and sang hymns about the


Navagraha temples around 7th Century AD.
There the assumption is that all these
temples were in existence around 7th
Century AD.
Navagraha Temples and Their Location
1) Suriyanar Koil of Sun God : Suriyanar
Temple is dedicated to Hindu Sun God and
is situated 3 km from Aduthurai, which is on
the Kumbakonam - Mayiladuthurai Road in
Tamil Nadu.
2) Thingaloor Temple : Thingaloor
Kailasanathar Temple is dedicated to Lord
Chandra or Moon God and is situated 1.5
km from Thirupayhanam, on the
Kumbakonam - Thiruvayyaru Road.
3) Vaitheeswaran Kovil: Vaitheeswaran
Temple is dedicated to Angaraka (Sewai or
Chowa) and is situated 4 km from
Mayiladuthurai, on the Chidambaram Road.
4) Thiruvenkadu Temple: Thiruvenkadu
Swetharanyeswarar Temple is dedicated to
Lord Budha and is situated 10 km southeast of Sirkali.
5) Alangudi

Navagraha temples
In Indian Astrology, movement
of the Navagrahas is
considered to have a major
role in influencing the fortunes
of any individual. In order to
mitigate the negative effects of
a planet which is debilated in
the birth chart or to provide
more potency to a planet that
is in an exalted state, believers
undertake pilgrimage to
designated Navagraha
temples.
N a v a g r a h a Te m p l e s i n
Tamilnadu are the 9 temples
dedicated to Navagrahas the
nine celestial planets of Hindu
a s t r o n o m y. T h e s e n i n e
Navagraha temples are

Route map of Navagraha Temples near Kumbakonam

Te m p l e : A l a n g u d i
continued on page 4

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Abathsahayeswarar Temple is dedicated to
Brihaspati (Guru or Vyazhan or Planet
Jupiter) and is about 15 km from
Kumbakonam on the way to
Needamangalam.
6 ) K a n j a n o o r Te m p l e : K a n j a n o o r
Agneeswarar Temple is dedicated to Sukran
(Velli or Planet Venus) and is located at an
interior village on the Mayiladuthurai Kathiramangalam Road.
7) Thirunallar Temple: Thirunallar
Darbaranyeswarar Temple is dedicated to
Lord Shani (Sani or Saturn) and is located 5
km on the way to Peralam - Karaikkal.
8 ) T h i r u n a g e s w a r a m Te m p l e :
Thirunageswaram Naganathaswamy
Temple is dedicated to Lord Rahu and is
situated about 7 km from Kumbakonam Karaikkal Road.
9 ) K e e z h p e r u m p a l l a m Te m p l e :
Keezhperumpallam Temple is dedicated to
Lord Kethu and is situated near Poompuhar
on the Mayiladuthurai - Poompuhar Road.

In the Hindu Mythology, the Navagrahas have an exalted position in a persons life as they
exert a great influence and it is said that the proper worship of these 9 planets can greatly
tone down their malefic influence and thus grant peace and prosperity in a persons life.
The entire place where the Navagraha is installed in a temple is a black granite stand and
the Navagrahas are also black granite with the facial features not so well formed, but they
are well decorated with the most favored colored cloth of the particular planet. Entire
pedestal that they are placed on has small channels that lead the water, milk, curd, yoghurt
and oil abhisheka that the idols are regularly done to a clean place. The oil from shani puja
/ abhishek is collected to light the lamps in the temple. So on and so forth.
As per Hindu customs, the Navagraha are typically placed in a single square with the Sun
(Surya) in the center and the other deities surrounding Surya; no two of them are made to
face each other. In South India, their images are generally found in all important Saiva
temples. They are invariably placed in a separate hall, on a pedestal of about three feet in
height, usually to the north-east of the sanctum sanctorum.

SURYA
My salutations to Surya, creator of the
splendorous day, son of the sage Kashyapa
and destroyer of ignorance and all
sins
- Navagraha Stotram

Lord Surya or the Sun God occupies the


central place amongst the Navagrahas
facing the east. Also known as Ravi, Surya is
the Lord of Simha Rashi or Leo sign in
Zodiac. Suryas vahana is a chariot drawn
by seven horses. The seven horses
represent the seven colors of the white light
and seven days of a week. He presides over
Raviwar or Sunday, his color is red and
gemstone is ruby.
Surya is, by himself, a very powerful deity.
He bestows health, success and prosperity.

He ensures victory over ill-wishers. Valmiki


writes in the Ramayana that when Lord
Rama had to go to war against Ravana,
Rishi Agasatya taught him the Aditya
Hrudaya Stotra in order to invoke Surya to
aid his campaign.

Surya is portrayed as seated in a singlewheeled chariot drawn by seven horses


denoting the seven days of the week. A halo
usually emanates from the image, signifying
Suryas power as also the light he emits. The
charioteer is Aruna, the dawn.

The Mahabharata says that Surya is the son


of the sage Kashyapa and Aditi, daughter of
Daksha. Hence, he is also known as Aditya.
The Aditya Hrudaya Stotra details Suryas
other names: Savita, Bhanu, Pushan,
Divakara, Haridasuvan, Sahasrachis,
Saptasapti, Marthanda, Bhaskara, Ravi,
Mahatejas and Lokasakshi. Prayers to
Surya are believed to be effacious in the
curing of ailments such as problems with the
eyes, weak bones, fevers of long duration
and skin problems. He is believed to control
the well-being of ones father.

Suryanar Temple - Navagraha Temple of


Sun God
Suryanar Koil, Suryanar Temple or
Sooriyanaar Koil, is the first of the 9
Navagraha Temples in Tamil Nadu, located
about 1 km from Tirumangalakkudi which
lies between Kumbakonam and
Mayavaram, near Thanjavur, in Tamilnadu.
Popular known as Surya Sthalam,
Suryanaar Kovil is dedicated to the Sun God
or Lord Surya, the first of Navagrahas. This
is the only temple in South India dedicated
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exclusively to Surya (Sun God). In the
sanctum, Brihaspati is depicted as
worshipping Lord Shiva Suryanarayana.
The other planets are enshrined separately.
The presiding deity, Sri Suryanarayana
swamy, is found in a lying posture inside the
sanctum sanctorum with his consorts Sri
Usha Devi and Sri Pratyusha Devi. The
other eight Navagrahas are seen facing the
Sun God. Besides, Suriyanar Temple also
embodies the shrines of Kasi Vishwanath,
Visalakshi and Brihaspati (Guru) within the
sanctum. The Kol Theertha Vinayakar
(Ganesha or Pillayar) shrine is a prominent
sculpture here.
Lord Surya Bhagawan is known as the giver
of health, success and prosperity. It is
believed that those who are affected by
'Graha Dhosham' and negative influence of

The Navagrahas are


considered to be
intermediaries
between the principal
deity in the temple
almost always Shiva
and the worshipper.
Each of the
Navagrahas is in
charge of specific
areas that concern the
devotee. It could be
health, wealth,
knowledge, marital
bliss and just about
anything about
everything else.

Lord Shani (Planet Saturn), Ashtama Shani


(Shani in 8th house) and Janma Shani
(Shani in 1st house) can visit Suryanar Koil
to get relieved of their sufferings. Wheat,
Red Lotus, Erukku (Madar Plant) and
Sakkarai Pongal are some of the offerings to
worship the Lord.
Sooriyanar Temple History and Architecture
Sooriyanar Kovil faces west and is built in
such a way to receive maximum beneficial
rays from the planets. Built by Chola King,
Kulothunga Chola I in the year 1100 AD, the
temple features a huge tower with three tiers
and five domes at the top. The sanctum and
the ardhamandapam are built of stone. This
is the only Navagraha temple where all the
nine grahas (nine planets) can be found in
separate sannadhis (Sanctums).
There is a tank called Surya Pushkarni,
which lies to the north of the Rajagopuram.
This is considered as a sacred bathing ghat.
There are around 15 theerthams in the
Suryanar Temple. The one which is located
inside the temple is called as Jnana
Koopam. The inscriptions from the period of
Krishna Deva Raya speak about the
endowments made to this temple. Nearby
the temple is the Poolaivala River. A
sacrificial platform (bali peetam) is seen at
the entrance and to its east lies a mandap.
An idol of a horse, the Sun Gods vaahanam
(vehicle), is seen here. The steps in front of
Guru Bhagwan lead to the idols of other
grahas.
Suryanar Temple Festivals
The annual Ratha Saptami festival
(Rathasapthami) during the Tamil month of
Thai (January February) is one of the main
festival celebrated here. The first Sundays in
the months of Aavani (Leo) and Kartikai
(Scorpio) is also considered very
auspicious. Vijaya Dashami and annual
Brahmotsavam festival (Bhrammotsavam)
are also held with much devotion.
Temple Timings
Suryanar Temple is opened from 6:00 AM to
12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
How to reach Suryanar Temple
Suryanar Koil is about 21 km from
Swamimalai and 15 km from Kumbakonam.
It is about 20 km from Mayiladuthurai on the

Kumbakonam - Aduthurai Mayiladuthurai


Road. Aduthurai Railway Station is the
nearest railway station.
Note: According to prescribed procedure
one must visit the Thirumangalakudi temple
before worshiping at Suryanar Temple. The
visit to Thirumangalakudi is necessary and
without it the entire trip to the Navagraha
temples especially Suryanar Temple will
remain incomplete.
CHANDRA
I bow to the Moon god who adorns the crest
of Shiva, white like snow who emerged out of
the Ocean of Milk.
- Navagraha Stotram
Chandra is a lunar deity and is also known
as Soma. The Moon represents the mind,
feminine nature, beauty and happiness. He
is believed to ride his chariot across the sky
every night, pulled by ten white horses or an
antelope. He is also called Nishadipati and
Kshuparaka. Lord Chandra is also one of
the Gods of Fertility. Chandra is the god of
Karka rashi or cancer zodiac sign. The
mental stability and well-being of a person
largely depends on the placement of the
moon in his horoscope. As Soma he
presides over Somavar or Monday and
gemstone is pearl.
When the celestial of Ocean of milk was
being churned, Chandra was one of the first
to emerge from it. He has pride of place in
Lord Shivas matted hair. This powerful
Graham is next only to Surya in his strength
and power to bestow favors on his
worshippers. He is Lord Shivas left eye
while Surya is the right eye. Chandra grants
a comfortable long life and fame. He cures
eye ailments (especially those of the left
eye) and skin diseases. Most importantly,
Chandra is the graha who helps remove
stress and sorrow. People suffering from
mental ailments seek a cure from him.
Chandra is believed to control the well-being
of ones mother. Those with strained family
relations pray to him to remove frictions
within the family.
Thingaloor Kailasanathar Temple
Navagraha Temple of Lord Chandra
Kailasanathar Temple, the second of the 9
continued on page 6

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Navagraham Temples in Tamilnadu,
dedicated to Lord Chandra (Moon God), the
second graha of the Navagrahas. This
Chandra Navagraha Stalam is located at
Thingaloor which is about 8 km from
Tiruvaiyaru near Thanjavur in Tamilnadu.
Thingaloor is named after the Tamil word,
Thingal, which means Chandra or Moon.
As most of the other Navagraha Temples of
Tamilnadu, Kailasanathar Temple is also a
Shiva Stalam and the main deities
worshipped here are Kailasanathar and
Goddess Periyanakiamman.
Legend says that the Lord Chandra
worshipped Lord Shiva here to save him
from a curse and gained his blessings.
Hence it is believed that those who have any
Chandra Dosha in their horoscopes can get
relief from suffering by offering prayers and
perfoming pujas to Lord Kailasanathar,
Goddess Periyanayaki and Chandra
Bhagwan. Devotees who worship Lord
Chandra are blessed with good health,
mothers welfare, and get rid of the stress
and sorrow in daily life.
Temple Architecture
Thingaloor Kailasanathar Temple is about
1500 years old. Built in the 7th century by
Pallava King Rajasimha, this ancient
Shaivite shrine reflects the early Dravidian
architecture. A huge Nandi is seen in the
front, facing the temple. The 16-sided Shiva
lingam at the main shrine is made out of
black granite. A unique feature of Thingaloor
Temple is that during the months of Puratasi
(September - October) and Panguni (March
- April), the rays of the moon fall on the Shiva
Lingam.
Thingaloor Temple History
This Chandra Sthalam is associated with
the life of Tirunavukkarasar, one of the 63
Nayanmars (Saivite saints). Legend says
that there lived a merchant, Appoodi Adikal,
at Thingaloor, who was a devotee of
Tirunavukkarasar. Appoodi Adigal had an
opportunity to host the saint, when he visited

Thingaloor. At the same time, his son was


bitten by a venomous snake. However, the
merchant continued to serve the saint
without revealing the tragedy. The saint was
inspired by his devotion and restored the
boys life by singing songs in praise of Lord
Shiva at this temple. This collection of ten
songs came to be known as
Thirupathikam.

God of Mithuna Rashi and Kanya Rashi in


Astrology.
In Hindu mythology, Buddha is Buddhi
Nathan ( he who imparts wisdom) or Graha
Peeda Hara ( He who destroys the malefic
influence of other planets) Budhas
controlling deity being Maha Vishnu or
Narayana, praying either to Budha or
reciting the Vishnu Sahasra Namam ( The

Temple Offerings
As Lord Chandrans color is white, he is
offered with raw rice mixed with jaggery,
white Arali (a flower), and white clothing. It is
believed that this pooja removes obstacles
in life. Besides, special pujas are performed
on all full moon days. Thingaloor is the
shrine where one prays for the health and
prosperity of ones mother. Kailasnatha
bestows fame on the devotee and cures skin
and eye problems.
Temple Timings
The temple is opened from 7:00 AM to 1:00
PM and 4:00PM to 8:00 PM on all days.

Thousand names of Vishnu) bestows


wisdom, intellect and excellence in
education both technical and the fine arts
promotion of the place of work and success
in business ventures.
Budha confers the art of communication well
and also a sense of humor! He controls the
lungs, intestines and the nervous system
and is the one to be prayed for a solution any
problems with these organs. He is in charge
of the well-being of maternal uncles. He is a
gentle planet , peaceful in nature and grants
wealth and vehicles. He is light green in
color and I attired in green robes. Wearing

How to reach Thingaloor Kailasanathar


Temple
Thingaloor Temple is about 36 km from
Kumbakonam, on the way to Tiruvaiyaru. It
is about 1 km from Thirupayhanam which is
on the Kumbakonam - Thiruvayyaru Road.
Kumbakonam Railway Station is the
nearest railway station. Frequent buses are
also available. Sethu Express
(Rameswaram to Tambaram) and Tirupati
Express (Tiruchirapalli - Tirupati) passes
through Kumbakonam Railway Station.
BUDHA PLANET MERCURY

an emerald or worshiping him on


Wednesdays is considered auspicious.
Budha, is the son of Chandra.
Swetharanyeswarar Temple Thiruvenkadu
Navagraha Sthalam Tamilnadu
S w e t h a r a n y e s w a r a r Te m p l e

at

Thiruvenkadu, the fourth Navagraha


sthalam of the 9 Navagraha Temples in
Tamil Nadu, is the abode for Bhudhan or
Bhuda (planet Mercury). Thiruvenkadu
Bhudha Sthalam is located near
Poompuhar, around 10 km from Sirkazhi,
24 km east of Mayuram and 59 km from

I bow to Budha who is dark of hue, of

Kumbakonam. The presiding deity is Lord

unparalleled beauty and of composed

Shiva as Swedharanyeshwarar and


Goddess Parvati as Brahma Vidya Nayaki

countenance.
- Navagraha Stotram

Ambal

(Brahmavidyanayaki).

Swetharanyeswarar Temple enshrines a

Budha is generally represented with four

separate sanctum sanctorum for Bhudhan

hands, three of his hands holding a sword, a

or Bhudan, one the nine Navagrahas .


Temple History
The name Thiruvenkadu, also spelled
Thiruvengadu, means sacred white forest
(Ven means white and Kadu means forest).
It is said that this place was surrounded by
thick forests on all sides and when seen
from a distance, it looked white, and hence

shield and a mace respectively while the


fourth one is held in usual varada mudra. He
rides a carpet or an eagle or a chariot drawn
by lions. Mercury represents ones
intelligence and communication. The planet
governs the nervous system. His color is
green his day is Wednesday or Budhwar
and his gemstone is Emerald. Budha is the

continued on page 7

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the name. In Sanskrit it is known as
Swetaranyam (Swetam means white and
Aranyam means forest). The place also
bears various names such as Jnanaaranya, (forest of wisdom), Patala Kailas
and Aadi Chidambaram.
Temple Architecture
Thiruvenkadu Temple is surrounded by five
prakarams known as pancha prakarams.
Here the Lord is consecrated in His forms as
Aghoramurthi (manifestation of His wild and
angry form) and Nataraja (a manifestation of
Shiva, assumed as the Lord of Dance). The
Nataraja image holds seven instruments
and weapons, namely, Vetalam, Khadgam,
Udukku, Mani, Kedayam, Kapalam and
Trisulam.
A unique feature about Swetharanyeswarar
Temple is that the image of Lord Shiva has
five faces, Easanam, Tatpurusham,
Aghoram, Vamadevam and Sadyojatam.
The posture of Nandi at the entrance is
another unique feature here. It bears nine
scars on its body and is seated at the
entrance of Devis shrine. The face is turned
towards the Lords shrine and ears cocked
towards that of Devi, signifying that it is
ready to receive orders from the Divine
Couple. Devi in Her divine form of
Bhadrakali has a separate shrine. Besides,
there are separate shrines for Ashta
Lakhsmis and the Navagrahas.
Swetharanyeswarar Temple has three
theerthams (holy tanks) called as Agni
Theertham, Surya Theertham and Chandra
Theertham which are said to have been
created out of the three drops which fell from
Lord Shiva's eyes when he was dancing.
The sthala vrikshams are also three in
number - Vilvam, Vadaval and Konrai. The
stone inscriptions on the walls of the
temples depict important historical
information on the Chola Dynasty and about
several kings of Vijayanagar. The rivers,
Kaveri and Manikarnika, run near the holy
shrine.
Worship
Worship to Lord Shiva's fiery form

The Navagrahas
Aghoramurthy is considered to be of great
importance especially on Sunday nights.
Budhan is the planetary ruler for knowledge,
music, astrology, Maths, sculpting, medicine
and language skills. Wednesdays are very
auspicious to Budha and offering pooja on
this day is believed to rectify any Budhan
Dhosham in horoscope. Budha is attired in
green and can be offered with green moong
dhal, white kanthal flower and green cloth.
The temple has three water tanks The
Surya (Sun) kulam, the Soma (Moon) kulam
and the Agni (Fire) kulam named after
Shivas three eyes. (Kulam means water
tank) Bathing in these tanks and worshiping
Shiva here for 45 days is believed to be
particularly efficacious for couples praying
for a child.
Thiruvenkadu Temple Festivals
The most important festival is the float

festival which is celebrated on the last day of


12 day celebrations in the Tamil month of
Maasi (February - March).
Temple Timings
The temple is opened from 6 AM to 12.00
PM and 4 PM to 9 PM
How to reach Swetharanyeswarar Temple at
Thiruvenkadu
Swetharanyeswarar Temple is situated 23
kilometers away from Mayiladuthurai, on the
Sirkali Poompuhar linking road. The
temple is 10 km from Sirkazhi and 59 km
from Kumbakonam.
Shiyali Railway Station, Thanjavur is the
nearest railway station, about 9 km from the
temple. Thiruvenkadu is accessible by road
from Vaitheeswaran Koil railway station and
Semponnar Koil railway station as well.
To be continued...

Vaastuyogam

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March 2013

Parle - G Biscuits
Packaging Is The Key

CORPORATE LOGOS

RaoSpeak
Any packaged snack/food that contains sweet taste and is retailed in packets comes
under the sway of the planet Venus whose colour is yellow. Retail business comes under
the influence of the planet Mars which is colour red.
In the Parle-G biscuit packaging there is ample presence of the two colours Yellow and
Red. This has ensured the longevity of the product and the profitability of the company.

Gluco brand of biscuits as an Indian

paper wrapper with the depiction of a young

alternative to the British biscuits. Parle-G

girl on the front. That boy/girl on the packet

biscuits were earlier called 'Parle Gluco'

hasn't changed for ages, and many Indians

Biscuits until 1980s. The "G" in the name

remember it from their very early childhood

Parle-G originally stood for "Glucose", though

memories. The only thing that has changed is

a later brand slogan also stated "G means

the packing material; the plastic packaging

Genius".

today used to be in some kind of butter-paper


(type) wrap until about late 90s.

Parle-G or Parle Glucose is a brand of biscuits

Very surprisingly expatriate Indians still

manufactured by Parle Products in India. As of

choose Parle G instead of the many

Parle G is ranked 7th in the most Trusted

2011, it is the largest selling brand of biscuits

established brands available abroad. Parle-G

Brands Survey conducted last year. One of

in the world according to Nielsen. In 2013,

is sold in US in most of the Indian stores in

the reasons behind the popularity of this brand

Parle-G became India's first domestic FMCG

packc of 20 for about 2$.

brand to cross Rs. 5,000 crore in retail sales.

is its strong distribution network. It is


distributed over 6 million retail stores in the

Parle Products was established in the Vile

Marketing
Primarily eaten as a tea-time snack, Parle-G is

population of 500. Parle gets over 90% of its

Parle suburb of Mumbai, in 1929. It began

one of the oldest brand names in India. In fact

revenue from popular biscuit brands such as

manufacturing biscuits in 1939. In 1947, when

doctors distribute Parle G biscuits after blood

Parle-G, Hide & Seek and Krackjack.

India became independent, the company

donation as well.

launched an ad campaign, showcasing its

country and is even available in villages with a

Compared with rivals such as Britannia


For decades, the product has been instantly

Industries Ltd and ITC Foods, the maker of

recognized by its iconic white and yellow wax


9

Parle-G or Parle
Glucose is a brand of
biscuits manufactured
by Parle Products in
India. As of 2011, it is
the largest selling
brand of biscuits in the
world according to
Nielsen. In 2013, ParleG became India's first
domestic FMCG brand
to cross Rs. 5,000
crore in retail sales.

Parle Group
Parle Products was founded in 1929 in British India. It was owned by the Chauhan
l
family of Vile Parle, Mumbai. The Parle brand became well known in India following the
success of products such as the Parle-G biscuits and Thums Up soft drink.
The original Parle company was amicably split into three separate companies owned
l
by the different factions of the original Chauhan family:
Parle Products, led by Vijay, Sharad and Anup Chauhan (owner of the brands Parle-G,
l
Melody, Mango Bite, Poppins, Monaco and KrackJack)
Parle Agro, led by Prakash Chauhan and his daughters Schauna, Alisha and Nadia
l
(owner of the brands such as Frooti and Appy)
Parle Bisleri, led by Ramesh Chauhan
l
All three companies continue to use the family trademark name "Parle".
l

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March 2013

continued from page 8

CORPORATE LOGOS

For decades, the


product has been
instantly recognized
by its iconic white and
yellow wax paper
wrapper with the
depiction of a young
girl on the front. That
boy/girl on the packet
hasn't changed for
ages, and many
Indians remember it
from their very early
childhood memories.
The only thing that
has changed is the
packing material; the
plastic packaging
today used to be in
some kind of butterpaper (type) wrap until
about late 90s.
Sunfeast biscuits, Parle has been slow in
expanding into new product categories. Over

Major Indian Biscuit Brands

Parle-G facts
If a month's production of Parle-G biscuits are stacked side-by-side, the distance
l
between Earth to Moon of 7.25 lakh kms can be covered.
400 million Parle-G is produced daily.
l

the past few years, Parles main focus was


growing its biscuit sales through increased

1 billion packs of Parle-G are produced monthly.


l

distribution and new products as demand for


biscuits was particularly strong from 2007 to
2010.
Parle-G has consolidated its position as the
world's largest selling biscuit brand, says a
new report by market researcher Nielsen. The
study, for last year, says Parle-G has topped
brands like Kraft's Oreo, Wal-Mart's private

Parle-G biscuits are sold in more than 5 million retail stores.


l
4,551 Parle-G biscuits are consumed per second.
l
If all Parle-G biscuits consumed annually are put end to-end, they would cover the
l
Earth's circumference 192 times.
Parle-G sells more than all the biscuit brands sold in China which is the fourth largest
l
biscuit market in the world.

labels and Mexico's Gamesa in voulme sales


to lead the Rs 11,295-crore Indian biscuits
category.

From mid-90s to mid-2000 the price of Parle-G remained unchanged.


l

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March 2013

10

Kumbh Mela Special


And those who were seen dancing were
thought to be mad by those who could not hear the music.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
This article is a researched article and
borrows heavily from printed and
electronic encyclopedias as well as
material provided by our panel of research
scholars, astrologers, academics and
pundits.
The Kumbh Mela is the world's largest
religious gathering, with 80 million people
expected to attend in 2013. It is held every
third year at one of the four places by
rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag),
Nashik and Ujjain. Thus the Kumbh Mela is
held at each of these four places every
twelfth year. The rivers at these four places
are: the Ganges at Haridwar, the confluence
(Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna
and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the
Godawari at Nashik, and the Shipra at
Ujjain.
The last "Kumbh Mela" held in 2001 in
Prayag (Allahabad, U.P) was estimated by
the authorities to have attracted between 30
and 70 million people.
The current Kumbh Mela began on 14
January 2013 at Prayag (Allahabad, U.P) .
According to expectations more than 100
million people will attend the 2013
Kumbhamela. The next Kumbh Mela will be
held at Nashikin Maharashtra on the bank of
the river Godavari in 2015 (15 August to 13
September).

History
The first written evidence of the Kumbha
Mela can be found in the accounts of
Chinese monk Xuanzang (formerly
romanised as Hsuan Tsang) who visited
India in 629645 CE, during the reign of
King Harshavardhana. However, similar
observances date back many centuries,
where the river festivals first started getting
organised. According to medieval Hindu
theology, its origin is found in one of the most
popular medieval puranas, the Bhagavata
Purana. The Samudramanthan episode
(Churning of the ocean of milk), is
mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu

Purana, the Mahabharata, and the


Ramayana. The account goes that the
Devas had lost their strength by the curse of
Durvs Muni, and to regain it, they
approached Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva.
They directed all the demigods to Lord
Vishnu who instructed them to churn the
ocean of milk Ksheera Sagara (primordial
ocean of milk) to receive amrita (the nectar
of immortality). This required them to make a
temporary agreement with their arch
enemies, the Asuras, to work together with a
promise of sharing the wealth equally
thereafter. However, when the Kumbha
(urn) containing the amrita appeared, a fight
continued on page 11

11

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Kumbh Mela Special


continued from page 10

ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights


(equivalent to twelve human years) the
Devas and Asuras fought in the sky for the
pot of amrita. It is believed that during the
battle, Lord Vishnu (incarnated as MohiniMrti) flew away with the Kumbha of elixir
spilling drops of amrita at four places:
Allahabad (Prayag), Haridwar, Ujjain and
Nashik.
Kumbh Mela is celebrated at these different
locations depending on the position of the
planet of B?haspati (Jupiter) and the sun.
When Jupiter and the sun are in the zodiac
sign Leo (Simha Rashi) it is held in
Trimbakeshwar, Nashik; when the sun is in
Aquarius (Kumbh Rashi) it is celebrated at
Haridwar; when Jupiter is in Taurus
(Vrishabha Rashi) and the sun is in
Capricorn (Makar Rashi) Kumbha Mela is

celebrated at Prayag; and Jupiter and the sun


are in Scorpio (Vrishchik Rashi) the Mela is
celebrated at Ujjain. Each site's celebration
dates are calculated in advance according to a
special combination of zodiacal positions of
Sun, Moon, and Jupiter.
The major event of the festival is ritual bathing
at the banks of the river in whichever town
Kumbh Mela is being held. Other activities
include religious discussions, devotional
singing, mass feeding of holy men and women
and the poor, and religious assemblies where
doctrines are debated and standardised.
Thousands of holy men and women attend,
and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part
attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad
in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on
their skin as per the requirements of ancient
traditions. Some, called nagasanyasis, may
not wear any clothes even in severe winter.
The order of entering the water is fixed, with
the Juna, the Niranjani and Mahanirvani
akharas preceding.

David Yeadon, author and illustrator of more


than twenty booksand a regular travel
correspondent for National Geographic,
National Geographic Traveler, The
Washington Post, The New York Times, and
other publications visited the last Kumbh
Mela held in Prayag (Allahabad) in 2001:Given below are excerpts from his very
moving account of the visit which is
published as A Bath for Fifteen Million
People in the Traveller Tales India:You should see the Kumbh Mela at
Allahabad. Id been advised by a friend in
Kathmandu. Its an incredible festival of
cleansing. Fifteen million people all
coming to the Ganges once every twelve
years. Incredible. You might just make it. Its
worth a try!
From a distance the Kumbh Mela looks like
a vast military encampment: thousands of
continued on page 12

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12

Kumbh
continued from page 11

square white tents with four sided pyramidal


roofs lined up in endless rows fill the dusty
flats around the Triveni Sangam, the
confluence of the three rivers (you can
actually see only two, but in India nothing is
what it seems and everyone insists that it is
the third, invisible river Saraswati that
endows the place with unique significance.)
It is very hot. A white dust hangs in a cloud
over the site, giving a haloed mystic feeling.
Ive been walking for almost an hour from
the cordoned-off entrance to the Sangam.
Actually, walking is not quite the word, more
like half-carried, half-trampled by a thick
mlange of humanity filling the hundredfoot-wide corridors between the tents and
the fenced encampments of the sadhus, the
gurus, the sanyasins and the swamis.
Each encampment has its own ceremonial
entrance made up of rickety scaf foldings
and tied bamboo poles topped with painted
symbols, logos and depiction of Hindu
deities. A vast supermarket of salvation

In this Feb. 6, 2013 file photo, a Naga Sadhu, center, watches as other Hindu holy men of
the Juna Akhara sect participate in a ritual that is believed to rid them of all ties in this life
and dedicate themselves to serving God as a Naga or naked holy men, at Sangam, the
confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna River during the Maha Kumbh festival in
Allahabad, India. The significance of nakedness is that they will not have any worldly ties
to material belongings, even something as simple as clothes. This ritual that transforms
selected holy men to Naga can only be done at the Kumbh festival.
specialists. Hundreds of them from all over
India, each surrounded by his own faithful
disciples and followers. The women in their
bright saris feverishly cook and clean
outside the square tents, while men,

bearded, ascetic, and clad in dhotis or dark


robes, gather in hunched groups around
their chosen wise men to listen and debate
and nod and sleep and listen again.
I sat overlooking the merger of the two
rivers. The sun sank, an enormous orange
globe squashing into the horizon, purpling
the dust haze, gilding the bodies of the
bathers. The moon rose, big, fat and silver in
the evening sky. There were thousands of
people by the river now. The bathing
increased but everything seemed to be in
slow motion.
I watched one old man, almost naked ,
progress through the careful rituals of
washing. He was hardly visible through the
throng and yet he acted as if he were the
only person thereby the river, unaware of
everything but the slow steady rhythms of
his cleansing. After washing every part of his
continued on page 13

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Mela Special
Dr. Ravi Rao at Kumbh Mela 2013

continued from page 12

one soul, cleansing, reviving, touching


eternity in the flow of the wide river,
linking with infinity, becoming part of the
body he began to clean his small brass whole of which we all are a part.
pitcher, slowly rubbing it with sand,
polishing the battered metal with a I made my way slowly to the river and
flattened twig, buffing its rough surface knelt down. For a moment there was no
with a wet cloth, until it gleamed in the me left in me. The river, the people, the
moonlight. Then he disappeared and movements, the night breeze, the
other bodies took his place by the river. moon, life, death, all became as one
continuum. A smooth, seamless totality.
I sensed timelessness and began to An experience beyond experience. A
feel the power of this strange gathering. knowingness beyond knowledge.
Each person performed the rituals in his
or her own way and yet from a distance I washed my face and arms and let the
there seemed to be a mystical unity water fall back to the flowing river where
among all of them, all these souls as it was carried away into the night.

Allahabad Medical Students Input Medical


Records From Clinic 4 Into The Custom Ipad App.

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14

Write Choice

Write Choice features excerpts direct from the important books of


distinguished writers. It is hoped that readers will be enthused to
broaden their perspectives by reading the original works from which
the excerpts have been gleaned.

The Kumbh Mela is an


awe-inspiring demonstration of simple piety
- Sir Mark Tully

has been such a feature of religions of the


Semitic traditions. This is because the
Indian tradition has always been profoundly
suspicious of certainty, has accepted that
God is indefinable, and that many roads
lead to salvation, so no one can claim a
monopoly of the truth

Sir Mark Tully


Sir Mark Tully KBE, (born William Mark
Tu l l y i n 1 9 3 5 ) i s " b e s t - l o v e d
Englishman." The former Bureau Chief
of BBC, New Delhi. He worked for BBC
for a period of 30 years before resigning
in July 1994. He held the position of
Chief of Bureau, BBC, Delhi for 20
years. Tully was made an Officer of the
Order of the British Empire in 1985 and
was awarded the Padma Shree in 1992.
The Kumbh Mela
Excerpts from The Kumbh Mela by Mark
Tully Published by Viking, New Delhi 1991
and by Penguin Books Ltd, London in 1992
as Chapter 3 of the book No Full Stops In
India. It narrates his experiences of the
Kumbh Mela 1989 held at Allahabad.
Where the Ganges and the Yamuna meet
people from many, many, different traditions
of Hinduism come together. It is a religion so
diverse that scholars often deny it can be
classified as one faith, and yet in Hinduism
you dont find the hostility between different
schools of theology, different sects, which

The Kumbh Mela also brings together


people of very different backgrounds. There
will be well-educated and prosperous
pilgrims, and those who have come to ply
their trade barbers and boat men will be in
big demand. Politicians will come to do their
business too. There will be many genuinely
holy men, some charlatans, and some
obscurantists.
But the majority of those who will come to
bathe in the Sangam will be villagers. Many
will have travelled long distances in
overcrowded trains; they will have nothing
but the barest necessities with them and
may have nowhere to sleep except the
banks of the rivers. Their faith is based on
custom and tradition, and at the last Kumbh
Mela they were dismissed by many
journalists and commentators as
superstitious. But one persons superstition
is another persons faith. Throughout the
ages it has been the simple piety of faithful
people who have not had the chance to be
educated, or the to reflect deeply, which has
been the bedrock of all religions. Of course
the Kumbh Mela is a magnificent spectacle
too. Millions of people gathered in one
place, colorful holy men, naked sadhus,
wondrous feats of asceticism, piety on a
scale unparalleled anywhere else
From the jetty I could see the Sangam,

where the blue waters of the Yamuna mixed


with the muddy brown Ganges and then
flowed away, sadly more brown than blue,
towards Varanasi
When I got talking to D.I.G Mishra I found
that he had been a senior officer at the last
Kumbh Mela. His predecessors had left
inadequate notes about their arrangements
and the problems they faced and so he set
out to make a close study of the Mela and to
record his findings meticulously . That had
led to a book on the Kumbh Mela which was
on sale this time.
D.I.G Mishra helped me to find my way
through the maze of religious organizations
attending the Kumbh Mela more than 800.
The akharas he told me , are the focal point
of the Kumbh Mela the big draw, with their
naked sadhus. They are the gymnosophists,
the warriors of the faith. They have the right
to march in procession to the central point of
the Sangam to bathe on the big days , and
they guard that right jealously.
That is not surprising because the Kumbh
Mela is the most important gathering of
Hindu holy men. The akharas are monastic
orders of militant sadhus. Historians are not
entirely clear about their origins, but they are
related to the ascetic orders founded by the
great Hindu reformer AdiShankaracharya.
He lived in the eighth or ninth century and is
often credited with the final defeat of
Buddhism in India, although some scholars
argue that Buddhism was already on the
way out. Adi Shankaracharya learnt from his
enemies and introduced the Buddhist
continued on page 15

15

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continued from page 14

Write Choice
tradition of monasticism to strengthen the
sinews of Hinduism.
The akharas are said to have defended
ascetics against attacks from militant
Muslim fakirs. Some of them also hired out
their services as mercenaries. As with all
good soldiers, there was considerable
rivalry between the different regiments,
which often lead to fights. The British
administration put strict restrictions on the
movement of the akharas naked sadhus, or
nagas, but even Victorian prudery could not
prevent them marching at Kumbh Mela. The
administrator of the 1906 Kumbh Mela had
had to order a cavalry charge to break up a
battle between the nagas. D.I.G. Mishra was
to have his own difficulties with these quick
tempered ascetics, although he had taken
the precaution of separating the camps of
the akharas who followed Lord Shiva from
those of their long-standing enemies who
followed Lord Vishnu.

the west to be bastions of the faith. Each is According to Mishra most of the pilgrims
still headed by a Shankaracharya, and three came for only one of the big days, but he
of them had come with their followers to the estimated there were also some 100,000
Kumbh Mela. A fifth Shankaracharya, kalpvasis, pilgrims who came for a longer
whose claim to enjoy the Hindu equivalent of stay and who took a vow to bathe three
apostolic succession is disputed, was also times a day in the Ganges, to eat just one
meal a day and that uncooked or coked by
there.
their own hands and to spend their time
There were hundreds of other holy men and meditating and reflecting on the state of their
organizations whose pedigrees were not as soul.

good as the akharas and Shankaracharyas


but
who all had their disciples. Gurus known It is very hard not to be cynical about the
The akharas were now changing, as Mishra
Brahmin priests who attend to the
explained to me. Most of the sadhus now in the West , like Maharishi Yogi, were well
immediate physical and spiritual needs of
wear clothes. They are also out to recruit a represented, and so was the Hare Krishna
those who come to bathe in the Sangam.
better class of person. For many years now movement. One thousand seven hundred
The lesser priests are known as ghatias.
there has been intense rivalry between them other religious organizations applied for
They set up stalls on the river edges, or
to attract good scholars, because they places at the Mela for the first time. Mishra
ghats, where they look after the clothes of
realize now that faith must be tempered with said, We decided the best way to deal with
the bathers help them with their toilet when
reason. They are also anxious to get older them was to say we would charge for all the
they come out of the river and say a brief
people with influence. Everyone has to deal facilities they got. We didnt hear from them
mantra to complete the process of
with government even sadhus and for again. The Kumbh Mela is, of course, a
purification.
that you need influence.
wonderful opportunity for religious
organizations to recruit and raise funds, but
But do many influential people take
the competition is very stiff.
sannyas [renounce all worldly ties]
nowadays? Surely they dont want to give up
Mishra also had to deal with the wandering
their modern lifestyle.
sadhus, the mendicants who were not
Oh yes, plenty do. I think I will take the robe attached to any akharas or other religious
group. They camped near the free kitchens
when I have finished with the police.
set up by some of the organizations. Mishra
I think I will go for one of the modern was rather dismissive of the mendicants:
organizations
They normally become viraktas or
wandering sadhus, he said, because they
The great reformer Adi Shankaracharya have lost their families or are frustrated with
formed four monasteries one in the north, life. But there are some genuinely spiritual
one in the south, one in the east and one in people among them.

Shri Ram Mishra was an elderly ghatia who


said his family had been ghatias here for
generations. He claimed to have looked
after Mrs Gandhi when she bathed in the
Sangam. He sat cross-legged on a low
wooden platform. A piece of sacking draped
behind him kept out some of the sand and
the dust. He had small bowls of the powders
and pastes necessary for replacing the
tilkas and sindoor washed away in the river.
There were mirrors and combs too. A
woman bather put twenty-five paise into a
basket in front of the ghatia and gave him a
continued on page 16

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16

continued from page 15

Write Choice
handful of potatoes. He gave her a piece of
sacred grass to hold , poured a teaspoonful
of Ganges water over her hand and
mumbled a brief blessing.
A hundred yards or so behind the ghatias
were the pandas, who are big businessmen.
Each panda was identified by a huge flag.
These Brahmins act as family priests,
maintain their clients genealogies, arrange
for their stay at the Kumbh Mela and perform
ceremonies for the souls of their dead.
Rajesh Kumar Panda was writing up the
latest developments in the family of a
peasant from central India. The family trees
are kept in long, thin notebooks whose
yellow pages are bound in red.
Ram Swarup had two sons, so what were
their names? he asked brusquely.
Omprakashand Shivram.The priest
scribbled hurriedly.
Have they married? Do they have any
children? Hurry up. Cant you see how busy
I am?
When he had updated the genealogy, he

turned to me and asked my business. After


getting through the inevitable rigmarole , he
demanded twenty-five rupees for explaining
the role of the pandas. When I agreed, he
told me that this was a family business of the
ghatias. All pandas have a district of India in
which they ply their trade. Rajesh Kumars
was Jabalpur, in central India. He visited his
clients there, selling Ganges water to those
who had not visited Allahabad recently and
encouraging them to be more regular in their
bathes.

the pilgrims who had bathed and were on


their home. I had never been in such a
peaceful crowd. There was no frenzy, just
the calm certainty of faith: the knowledge
that what had to be done had been done.

The vast majority of the pilgrims were


villagers. Their faith gave them the courage
to ignore the ugly rumors and the fortitude to
travel in overcrowded trains and busses, to
walk for many miles and sleep in the open.
The elite for the most part ignored the
Kumbh Mela, but those who did come
At the back of his stall was a capacious tin travelled in cars and slept in tents.
trunk full of his clients registers of birth,
marriages and death, each one wrapped No other country in the world could provide a
carefully in a cloth. Rajesh Kumar took me spectacle like the Kumbh Mela. It was a
outside his stall to see his flag, which triumph for the much maligned Indian
depicted Hanuman trampling on a demon. administrators, but it was a greater triumph
Many of the pandas had chosen one or for the people of India. And how did the
another member of the Hindu pantheon for English language press react to this
their flags, but there were secular emblems triumph? Inevitably, with scorn.
flying above the stalls too there was a
steam engine, a train complete with a guard The Times of India, the countrys most
carrying a green glag, a fish, and a plough influential paper, published a long article
replete with phrases like, Obscurantism
and oxen.
rules the roost in Kumbh, Religious dogma
Now you see how my clients will recognize overwhelmed reason at the Kumbh, and
me. He said. They ask where the Hanuman The Kumbh after all remained a mere
panda is, and they are directed to my flag. spectacle with its million hues but little
Now pay me my twenty-five rupees quickly substance.The Times of India criticized the
I must get back to my clients.
Vishwa Hindu Parishads politics, but made
no attempt to analyze the piety of the
I made my way back to the press camp with
millions who bathed at the Sangam.