Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 6:02 AM
Today we began with a darshan of VeLi AandaL sannadhi.
A retired govt servant somehow has become a junior bhattar at this sannadhi. He has been around for 2+ years now. He had offered to help out when he found the sannadhi in a sorry state of neglect.
He took pains to explain the mahathvam of this sannadhi on finding we were from out of state and it was our first visit ever:
Here is where Aandal takes time to adorn Herself as a bride for Her marriage with Rangamannar. Seated, She has a bashful smile on Her face, lips a wee-bit parted, sports a Lakshmi-kondai on Her head.
When the time comes, Periyaazhvaar summons a pallakku (palanquin) for Her to join Her Azhagiya Manavaalan (bridegroom). Somewhere on the way he lifts the screen on the side of the palanquin and finds his Daughter missing. Where would he go searching for Her at this time – a vexed Aazhvar is beset with grief. That’s when She reveals Herself as an avataram of Bhooma Devi and She has since joined Her spouse in their celestial abode. Well, I have not read the books to know how She consoled Her earth-bound father. To imagine his sad plight…
Overwhelmed by the beauty of Ranganatha, She takes long breaths. As She exhales, the flame of a torana vilakku lighted nearby lurches as if blown by a light breeze. The vilakku right beneath – only a few inches away – burns steady without a flicker!!
We know Ranganatha or Ranganayaki Thayar accept flowers only from their Nandavanam. Not even from the royalty (what to speak of lesser mortals like us). The one exception: During a festival (could not catch which one) Ranganatha appears at Aandal’s door-step and eagerly grabs the garlands She winningly parts with and wears them like He could wait no more!
On another occasion (which one?), it is now His turn to part with the kasturi adorning His forehead – the only time He ever does.
Another suvaiyaana karpanai (don’t know if these are bhattar’s words): Aandal is decked with ornaments only to ‘avaludaiya alavilladha azhagai kuraipathatke’!!
As I stepped out of the sannadhi and the trance, I waited for a few minutes at the mandapam in front waiting for my spouse to emerge.
I asked the only pookkaari if this shrine draws enough crowd – we could see only a few bhakta’s with us. She said it does get a few locals visiting daily. On special days like ammavasai, ekadasi, etc. the turnout is thick like in other shrines – to note: this sannadhi is not inside the main temple, but located a little out of the way beyond Chitra veedhi’s. The pilgrims to the main temple must make a detour to reach this shrine.
She was sure anyone coming to the shrine once would certainly come again bewitched by Her beauty. And for herself, she found immense relief stationing herself in this shrine: ’I leave all my pracchanai’s to Her.’
Amazing words coming from an illiterate pookkari.
I pointed to the pile of unsold flowers in front of her. Won’t she suffer losses? Perhaps she grew the flowers on her own patch that the losses didn’t matter much?
‘Illai, sami, I buy them from the market. The unsold flowers – I give them away to the temple. Yes, I make a loss, but She’ll take care of me.’
We left not before giving her the money that I had ‘smartly’ knocked off her while buying malligai saram from her on entry to the sannadhi. And a little more.