The unusually bright sun, alluring early morning rituals combined with music and poetry, attendance of all the invitees and appealing food, all made the formal grihapravesaham to Ramu’s new house in Vancouver, a colorful event. Sreeram Shakti Bhattar from the nearby Surrey Yoga Hanuman temple, originally form Sriperumpathur, inaugurated the event with auspicious, pre-recorded nadaswaram music, followed by his Vedanthadesiaka stuthy in Samskritham and then in Tamiz and Vigneswara stuthy. There were three sets of thamboolam with dakshinai placed next to the manjal pilliar, the turmeric idol of Ganesh, for Mahavishnu , Guru and Brahmanals, learned brahmins and the learned priest made me Brihaspathy, guru for Ramu, for which I hesitated initially as I thought that position should go to Ramu’s father, ignorant of the fact that the thamboolam included a new 10 Canadian $ note and coin! Bhattar’s pooja, with liberal quoting from Tirupavai and other Tamil devotional literature, without leaving the Samskrita mantras behind, would have pleased the gods, as our gods love music . Undoubtedly, it was pleasing for the family. A few years ago, I participated in Ramu’s another grihapravesham at Newcastle upon Tyne, near England and the pooja conducted by a panditji from Allahabad had no music content though he too followed the scriptural guidance scrupulously and satisfied us.
From place to place, the sampradayam, method of performing religious rituals differ though all priests basically follow the Vedic scriptures. In some parts of the country, pradakshinam, circumambulation to the deities are done anticlockwise, an unacceptable method in the southern part.’ Why not, that is how our Earth orbits the Sun”, I told a friend who raised objection. In our own part of the country, there is marked difference in Vedam recitation and worshiping methods between Namboodiries and Tamil Brahmins.
It is not the procedure but the intend, interest and dedication that counts .
Comes to my memory, many marriage celebrations, I had attended.
Many Telugus marry after sunset, as they follow the moon’s path . in a marriage I attended during the wee hours, the bridegroom, who had spent two sleepless nights on his hospital duty, was inattentive with his head sagging , while the priest was dictating the mantrams.
” Levura moddu-wake up, you idiot” I alerted him.
”Sivudu, I’ am dreaming my girl friends” replied the jovial guy in Telugu, forgetting for a moment that his girl was sitting close by. The bride was not Telugu-literate but the words, ‘girl friends’ rung the caution bell and she looked at her mother, anxiety darkening her look. Her wise mother, all mothers become wise when their daughters are about to be married, heard and understood my friends’ comment well, consoled her daughter,” child , you don’t worry. All his dreams will be over when you enter his life”
” Athagaru, eamantunaru- what did you say?” enquired the sleepy guy to the elderly lady.
The Panthalugaru, the priest came to her rescue:
”Madam says that with love and care, her daughter will never allow you to sleep and therefore you can’t expect any dreams” . The priest laughed loudly and the bridegroom repeated that faithfully. At least that he did correctly.!
The pandits are always down to earth though their job is to bring down the celestial to the earth below.
They know how to make others happy, as the Bhattar did, by elevating me to Brihaspathy for a moment.
A nephew of mine married a Telugu Brahmin girl and the Iyengar priest lacing his mantrams with lively jokes and lovely lyrics, made the event memorable. This wedding took place in in the morning hours and though he too is a physician, had no night duty and therefore was not sleepy. More over, he had to be disturbed from his seat, as an aged guest needed immediate medical attention. He had, therefore no scope to dream and more over the alert mother in law was keeping a watch on his whispers into my ear.
Prior to her procession to the dais, ceremoniously carried by her four uncles in a bamboo basket, the bride had to perform an hour long worship, which included recitation of Lalitha Sahsranamam and Gouri pooja, a unique practice.
In another wedding, also of my another nephew that took place in Gowhati, the mother in law was not to see the bride groom, when his procession entered the wedding hall. His wedding with an Assam Kshatriya girl was memorable, as I had to act as the priest in the absence of the designed priests’ missing the flight from Kolkatta. I managed somehow, filling up the blanks by devotional verses known to me but when the time for ‘asheervadam’, blessing by the elders came, I became helpless. The ‘akshadai’ the tamarind powder-mixed rice, I handed over to the assembled elders, for placing on the heads of the couple,as a token of their blessings, when the pair prostrated before them, they put on their own heads! let them too live long and bring out 16 children, though for some of the couple it was too late for the noble act.
Our scriptures , fortunately are not water-tight compartments. There is ample room for moving hands and legs .They are only guides for enjoying a happy, healthy, useful life in this world ; they are not prison manuals or passports for the life-after.
Let us tie threads only around the kalasams, sanctified water pots for worship, and not around us.