We are visiting the family deity ( brought into the limelight suddenly after many years of dull obscurity ) in a tiny rural community some miles from Tiruvarur. The blindingly bright green paddy fields around Tanjavur have been left behind. This area is a little more dry with paddy spread on the roads to be threshed by passing vehicles. Of course the paddy gets caught in the car wheels and we have to stop to remove it. A bus going the opposite way is brought to a halt before us. A very young conductor steps out. Behind him a gaggle of young boys fall out of the bus and approach us uncertainly . We never discover what is it they mean to do ? One thing clear is- they are all bemused by this carload of city slickers and no one is irritated by the unnecessary delay. The car moves to the side of the road and they stare curiously in as they pass by. The scene is so rural that I want to film it myself. And I see what inspires our hundreds of filmmakers - the dark turbaned old man riding slowly through the green country side - lambs and goats gamboling on the road in front - a young couple with a babe in arms waiting patiently at the side of the road for the bus- a rickety ramshackle school with plants growing all over it -
We reach the temple- a small building with a few huts around . The inside is dark and cemented. The Amman is a dark statue one can hardly see. Not really very appealing. Till the pujari starts his riutals.
He bathes Her in a couple of pots of water. Her dark form glistens sinuously and she suddenly comes to life. She has so many beautiful curves. He highlights them with milk and then with turmeric laced water and covers her with banana paste.
Suddenly she is clean again and covered in minutes with a bright yellow saree. The gaudy gold embroidery looks lovely in this setting. With a sure hand, the pujari adorns her person with huge round turmeric and kumkum dots. I suddenly think that with the advent of sticker bindis its years since I did it for myself.
With deftness, he garlands her and with most of her form hidden, she is now mysterious and a Goddess, a woman no more.
Suddenly there are a host of urchins at the door. Sans underwear but with a tumbler in each hand. Ready to receive the prasadam, unapologetic, unabashed ,the food of the Gods theirs by divine right.
And the morning is complete.