Margazhi mornings. Of the 70s


My earliest memories of Margazhi mornings in Mylapore dates back to the 1970s and to my childhood.

My amma (Meenakshi), an ardent devotee of Sri Kapaleeswarar, used to wake me up early in the morning for a bath in cold water. I would then accompany her to the temple for my first experiences of Kapaleeswarar Temple on a margazhi morning.

The daily margazhi ritual was this – much before waking me up, my amma would have already drawn a big kolam in front of our house each day of margazhi. In a sense she created the village agraharam atmosphere for us to experience in Mylapore and initiated in us that feeling of what the decades gone by were in traditional temple towns.

The devotional aspect of her margazhi morning was that she never had coffee before having the 5 a.m. darshan of Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal. The devotion and togetherness was so vibrant that when she found others from outside Mylapore, she would invite them for a coffee after the darshan. Her temple visit on a margazhi morning was at least an hour long. In the 1970s, the bhajan groups were big in numbers and they would go around theMada Streets singing the sacred verses on a chilly margazhi morning.

The elders in the group would bring along young paavadai-clad girls with them to initiate bhakthi and a sense of belonging in them. In fact, that was how my father-in-law initiated the early morning margazhi process in my wife, Priya, during her childhood days. As a school girl, she would go along with her amma to the temple for the 5 a.m. darshan and then with her appa on the bhajan tour around the Mada Streets.

And she continues that tradition of waking up early on a margazhi morning and visiting both the Kapaleeswarar and Velleeswarar temples every morning at around 5 a.m. Even though she has a sinus problem, she never misses the margazhi darshan despite the chilly weather.

An integral part of the margazhi morning was the presentation of neivedyam to the Lord at home. This for most part was pongal. While for the rest of the 11 months, the day would start with suprabatham, in margazhi, we used to recite Thiruppavai at home.

When relatives came home from other cities during margazhi, they found this process to be devotionally enriching and felt blessed to have darshan of lord Kapali at 5 a.m. It gave them a positive feeling to be at this temple so early in the morning and be alongside a large number of devotees.

While the bhajan rounds continue to this day, clearly the numbers have dwindled in the recent decade. Unfortunately, the New Gen has not joined the bhajans process or the early morning margazhi visit to the Kapali temple.

( This recollection was told to S. Prabhu )

  •  54-year-old T. N. Venkatanarayanan has been a resident of Nadu Street all his life. He is MD of a data management firm.
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