Assassinated Memories

Miniaturist always reminds me the novel of Orhan Pamuk - MY NAME IS RED. But never the less Tamil Nadu has many number of cultural representation in the medium of arts. If the renowned work of Thanjai Prakash's KALLAM is translated, it will provide an insight about the miniaturists to the world audience. Kallam not only deals with the miniaturist but also it literally explains about an art made through colored glass pieces which prevailed in our past in the areas of Tanjore.
The thoughts about these artists were awakened in me during the short trip I made to Madurai in the recent times. I always had a fascination to visit Meenakshi Amman temple. During my childhood I have heard this temple being referred as a monumental puzzle and it has always intrigued me until I visited at the age of eighteen. 

Recalling my first visit to Madurai was filled with personal work. It was around three at night. The roads were empty with some night wanderers. I mistakenly got down in a place and found it was Periyar Nilayam. Buses were always filled with countable heads invariable of day and night. I was busy in my headphone adhering to the bus route my friend was conveying in sleepy voice. At the end of the call a Marathi family approached me asking the way to Meenakshi Amman temple. I turned dumb to them. But the term monumental puzzle triggered the buried desire within me and without any conscious of time I started to walk towards the temple by the way said by one of the wanderers.

Again the empty roads took my imagination back to the era when the temple was built. Roads and the shops would have been the houses of the people. Mild illumination from the street lights and the closed shutters of the shop paved my mind to feel the night and the melodramatic expectation towards the shrine. The gigantic wall and the amazing view of the north tower mesmerized me. I was standing still at the crowd less maasi veedhi1. Since I was at the back of those Marathi family police questioned all of us about our roaming. Words didn’t bother my moment. I was just seeing the wall and the unimaginable ecstasy was aroused about the statues behind the wall which were about to be seen once in my lifetime.

After a gap of two years again a chapter got opened. This time confirmation within me about the visit to the temple converged in a practical sense on a reddish evening time. Opened shops, fast moving people and the police men again reminded me the night I was in the north tower. The friend I went along with was Sabitha. She was well known about the temple through her mom. From the time we entered the temple she started saying about the fascinating stories that she was aware of.

Every temple’s history has a myth, magic, divinity and a story. All these things have been formed to construct a peaceful mind and to attain an ideal society with preset values. These values were educated to people by means of various folk tales. On the other side of these tales an unimaginable fears have been culminated in the hearts of the people. They imagined the situations, created reasons for both good and bad which were attributed to god, but as a whole they were satisfied. These entire things turned as pawns in the hands of political bureaucrats. 

Sabitha spotted me a statue. They were two in number, looking like neither an arrogant servant nor a vigorous warrior. These types of statues could be seen in various parts of Tamil Nadu as kaaval theivam which literally means “Guardian spirits”. I couldn’t remember their names exactly. She said once people used to throw butter on the faces of these statues. It’s mainly because the incarnations are filled with anger. It may lead to famine of the entire place where they reside. In order to pacify them people used butter. I interrupted her by questioning instead of throwing can’t they apply it on the entire body? She smiled and said there is restraint that human bodies should not touch those statues. If it happens then the cause of the anger will be towards the person who broke the limitation. She continued telling distinct tales for many of the statues.

Once there was a worldwide voting for the Seven Wonders of the World in which Meenakshi Amman temple was also on nomination. She told that at that time this ritual of throwing butter at the statues were prohibited by the officials proclaiming that the shrine must be clean and tidy. Since then this ritual turned into a tale.  I felt angered on hearing this, as we were not preserving the heritage of this temple for which many of the citizens voted. Now if you get chance to visit the temple one could see the hanuman in a pillar filled with orange paste (orange colored powder mixed with water). 

Aayiramkaal mandapam within the temple is an antique place where many bronze sculptures of various reigns have been preserved in glass boxes. But the ill-cultured people have thrown their photos and paper bits within these boxes. Reasons for their mentality seem to be like a morning fog. I even saw a debit card within the box. Where their mind went wrong? What made them to be so ignorant? Where were those diplomats who ordered to maintain the temple clean and tidy?  I’m ashamed to identify these people who are from the same crowd who voted during the “Wonder” filled election.

The monumental puzzle that were nurturing within me all these years until I got to the temple was solved in a simple manner. Ways within the temple were blocked. People can enter and come out in the same way as simple as they can. This may seem like a trivial complaint, but it is a matter of Tamil Nadu’s architecture and pride. Even in the recent book fair held at Chennai I saw many people buying books based on the construction aspects of temples which was released by the Government itself.

Monuments and the temples are not the places to be preserved at the times of emergency. They are our heritages. By neglecting to preserve the temples and transferring the folk tales to our generations, our roots will get vanished. Do we need another voting by the whole world to maintain one of our temples? Also, Meenakshi Amman temple is not the only shrine we are enjoying as our heritage. Every district, village, city has countless temples with histories/myths at the back of those architecture. They are in need of people to share their histories and myths. If not they will soon turn out to be mere buildings made of bricks and powders.

When a background or the past or the history is unknown, thy being may be called an orphan. Is that term only for the human race ?

P.S: 1 – It is a street named after Tamil month maasi.

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