In the midst of my personal work during dreamtime, literally and magically in the early morning hours, with our curtains open to the moonlight and windows closed so not to attract in mosquitos, a “tiger striped” kitten found its way into our room and took up residence curled up with Babe. Still quietly there when I wake to John Lennon singing “Imagine,” Babe has named her Ramana!
Before breakfast and the heat of the day sets in, our group sets out on a walking tour around Mount Arunachala. This circumambulation of the sacred mountain is known as Pradakshana (“pra” signifies the removal of all sins, “da” the fulfillment of all desires, “shana” the freedom from the cycle of rebirth), and is a popular pilgrimage. Along the way, we stop at various shrines as well as sacred rocks and trees to make offerings.
Our driver takes us on a “short-cut" backroad to the hotel, which is a very narrow dirt and sand track with lots of bumps (and no suspension) along the way — we knowingly look at each other thinking what an adventure!
Famished, we are grateful the restaurant is still open when we arrive at Sparsa. We order refreshing mango lassi, a mushroom pepper stir fry that is yummy delish, vegetable fried rice with cucumber raitha and garlic naan. Fully satiated, it’s time for a cool shower and siesta . . . however, first we must change our spa appointments as the day’s itinerary was turned upside down. Fingers crossed, we can book spa treatments for tomorrow!
When we arrive, the Temple is awash in the golden light of late afternoon. I am awestruck — and always hope to be — by the magnificence of architecture and the knowledge that thousands of others have walked barefoot over these same stone floors and gazed at the stories told in the intricate stone carvings. I am humbled by the devotion expressed by the hundreds and hundreds of people of all ages who come day and night to receive blessings and moksha.
Working our way deeper into the temple complex, we encounter music being played and there is a party-like atmosphere as tonight — the night before the full moon — a puja is being celebrated. In the Nandi shrine, several priests decorate the granite bull with garlands of flowers and prayers. Every so often, the crowd goes wild as the Nandi seems to discharge flowers into his audience. This goes on and on. It is impossible not to feel the high-voltage energy being released by all the devotees of Shiva.
Tired and longing for silence after a long and heartfelt day. Babe and I go back to our room, order room service — same meal as lunch, it was so good — and settle in for an early evening of reading and meditation before turning out the lights and wondering if Ramana kitty will be back for another visit . . . this time we leave the window open a crack!