O traveler get up; it is dawn-it is not right that you continue sleeping.
One who awakes, he finds,
One who is asleep, he loses.
Get up and open your eyes from slumber and meditate on your Master.
It’s all very well to read and realise as one goes grey, but what on earth was our incentive at age 11 to wake up at 4.30 am in Ooty, slip out from under warm razais and run to bathe in hot water boiling over firewood in a sunken or rather embedded brass anda? The smell of boiling eucalyptus leaves flung in for good measure and the fragrant smoke firewood that was nothing but twigs or “Sulli” of the same tree woke us up. Not with the start of a mobile alarm tone but with a warm comfort that threw laziness out with logic and compelled us brave the nipping air and run to the colony Siddhi Vinayak temple and join the group or “bhajanai goshti with teary eyes and runny noses ( no, no nasty cold, just that early morning reaction to the chilly air) !
Grabbing “jalras” and squabbling for positions we would be off. Pahi paahi would come out as pa a a hihihi and then settle down to rhythm and sruthi and off we would march. As we went round, more and more teens, tweens and little ones bunched around the mamas and annas who led us.
We knew where the mamis, paris and ammas – were – making hot coffee. Sukku coffee. Regular coffee. Karupatti coffee. A bit of something to warm our insides, most often culminating in hot pongal or sundal as moods mandated.
The medley changed everyday, as one other the other of the group took the lead, vying to show variety and power. We couldn’t care who or what – we only had to repeat and clap our cymbals and keep time. The routine varied but seldom changed. There was Ganesha going first, Muruga, Shiva, Vishnu as Rama and Krishna, Devi, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, the Navagrahas, Ayyappa and so on…
And then there was hot pongal. And home again.
What life! What a pleasant routine!
My adult brilliance questions now – why on earth in the coldest month of the year? Why when one can shiver even in muggy Madras and Mylapore? Why before dawn?
And of course, where else do we go but the wisdom of many – the great bottomless pit of information – much still in formation, much formed all wrong but nevertheless, we at least have info at our fingertips. Yes. The mighty Google & Cousins.
What’s special about Margazhi? The cold Dhanur masa? Why Brahma Muhurta – the pre dawn preference? Why the singing on the streets?
While I read up and find what works for me, may i invite our dear readers to share their answers and knowledge?
Look forward to hearing from you all. And I promise, in the meanwhile to try solve my dilemma and share my findings.