The word ‘Shivaratri’ brings to my mind my Bhavani Periammai, a short, frail figure, wrapped in a white cloth extended to cover her shaven head too, crossing the Kalpathy River with a grass mat tugged in her arm pit, with empty stomach but elevated bakthi feelings, going to the Shiva temple for worship and then hearing kathakalakshepam or Bajhan but dozing off half way through the sathsang, encouraged by the streams of cold wind rushing in from the western ghats to recite Rudram and Chamakam at the sanctum of the Lord Shiva.
‘Shivaratri’ brings to my mind Perinkulam Krishnavadhyar , who comes all the way from our native village by walk to watch Kathakali, and my Appa taking me to Kallaikulankara Eamoor Bhaghavathy temple , holding my hand and crossing the hillock to watch the Kathakali at night, and me dozing off after watching the colourful dance for a while, under the breezy tree, unmindful of the sound from the percussion instruments, metallic musical sound from the Chengala, ( the brass disc) and the yelling of the ‘kathi veshams ‘ or villainous characters, on the stage. Appa doesn’t scold me for taking a nap in between as there are many old women still in sound sleep though the sun is about to arise on the eastern gate and many are moving towards the ponds around for a bath.
Ideally Shivarathri should bring to my mind the Ardhayama pooja at the Baba Viswanath temple in Kashi, where the sound from the multi instruments create an ambience of the Mount Kailas where the Celestial dance takes place, enthusiastically watched by the devas, kinnaras, gandharvas etc. and I sit among the crowd forgetting myself, after a fresh bath in the cold waters of the holy Ganges and reciting ‘Om Namashivaya’.
Shivarathri should remind me, the Procession of the Lord of Kalpathy, seated on the Nandi whose sharp ears absorb with immense joy, the shouts of ‘kailasapathe’ coming out of the throat of those carrying the heavy idols on their shoulders and me trying to push in between and try to reach one of the heavy poles on which stays the base holding the idols.
Ideally Shivarathri should remind me the scene in the Kiraathajuneeyam Kathakali show I was watching, where
Mother Parvathy tormented by the sight of Arjuna’s sharp arrows piercing her Lord and cursing him,
‘Nee, noonam eyyunna baanangal okkayum
Soonmai poka Pandava’
( Let the sharp arrows you shower at my Lord turn into flowers! )
Shivarathri, ideally should have reminded me the Rudram, Chamakam, Shivanandalahari and other Devine hymns taught by my Appa and learned by me on my own or at least the ‘Shambho MahAdeva, Deva’ which I used to recite standing before the sanctums of the Vaikathappan or Sreekanteswaran of TVM .
Shivarathri should have at least reminded me just two or three words, ‘Om Namah Shivaaya:’ or Shivaya namah Ohm’
Shivarathri should have attest reminded me, my own name and prompted me to utter a single word, ‘Shivoham’.
No, no such things happen. Instead, I remember the banana chips and neyyappam, I had for the evening coffee on Friday, before leaving for New Jersey and Megh’s strong warning this morning, using the familiar appellation of my FB friends, ‘no, SPji, no fasting this year; you are under treatment!
Shivaaya namah Ohm!