Today (28-06-09), morning a troop of more than 150 devotees descended on our neighbourhood Shiva temple. They are part of the ' Kongu Mandalam ApparadaigaL Sivaneri Vazhipaattu Thirukkoottam ( Association of 'Appar AdigaL' Siva Devotees of Kongu Region ) . They are from Vijayamangalam near Erode and do cleaning of Siva Temples every month on the last Sunday. This is their 335 th temple in their 35 years of such divine work.
By the time I reached the temple , all the members were busy cleaning our temple. Half of them were women and they were from diverse places in Kongu region. Some children also had come. Most of the men were with Rudraksha Mala, bare chested and busy in cleaning the ground and the prakarams.
Oil slime, soot from lamps, and stains of all kinds were being attended to. Look at the following pictures that speak for themselves.
The women had brought the flowers themselves and are engaged in preparing garlands for the deities.
A typical Shiva Devotee (Sivanadiyar) with Rudraksha malas around his neck.
The cleaned Nataraja swamy Vigraha . The temple kurukkaLs are sitting along . The boy is my son.
Food is getting ready for the devotees. This was arranged by our temple management.
The Lord's utensils are being cleaned.
A woman devotee cleans the Gomuki- the outlet port for the Abhisheka water.
The open ground being cleaned.
Each of the above picture can be clicked on and enlarged. Please observe the eagerness of the Bhaktas as they had converged from far off distances. One such volunteer was present as early as 6.00 AM and he came from Bhavani , about 80 KM from Coimbatore !
Witnessing the scene of 'Uzhavarappani' (cleaning of the temple) , I was transported in time back by 1500 years, when the great Appar swamigaL, started cleaning temples as part of his divine work. In fact his only work was cleaning temples and singing the praise of Lord Siva. That work alone revived Saiva Religion in Tamilnadu and paved the way for other great Nayanmars to do divine work.
I stood there moved to the bones on seeing the simple people seriously engaged in their work. They were mostly from the middle class or lower middle class , sacrificing a weekend for the cause of society and the Lord. It became clear that whatever be the missionary onslaught, the core of Hinduism is rock solid and invincible. I just saw one more demonstration of it.