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Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

The God takes a tour - of the area He lives in!




Living as close to the eastern express highway as we do, it comes as a surprise to see the many birds and the peace that pervades through our colony. For all practical purposes, it is like a small village, a parallel highlighted by the state of the roads inside, a permanent bone of contention between the residents and the BMC (the Municipal Corporation). However, yesterday, our colony literally took on the atmosphere of a village in celebration, when the Subramanya Mutt in our complex conducted its annual Kanda Shashti Mahotsavam.

To give a small introduction, Kanda Shashti is an auspicious day for Muruga, the son of Shiva and Parvati, also known as Skanda. This is the day the young warrior lord is said to have defeated the arch enemy of the Devas – Surapadman, the lord of the demons.

The story of Karthikeya

According to the legend, the demon lord Surapadman along with his brothers Tarakasuran and Simhamukhan defeated the Devas and ruled heaven. The Gods rushed to Brahma as usual, asking for help, and he informed them that the only one capable of defeating the demonic trio was the offspring of Shiva. But here, the Devas were in trouble, for Shiva was deep in penance, having forsaken the world after his wife Sati perished in the flames of the divine Yagna. Sati had re-incarnated as Parvati, daughter of Himavat, the Lord of the mighty Himalayas, but Shiva had no eyes for anyone. It was left to the Devas to open Shiva’s eyes to the beauty and allure of Parvati and hasten their marriage, but all their attempts were of no avail. Even an attempt by Kama, the lord of love to open the lord’s eyes only resulted in Kama’s death! Finally, it was Parvati herself, who, by her rigorous penance, managed to earn the attention and then, the love of the lord. Shiva and Parvati, once they got married, were so immersed in themselves, that the Devas had to rush again to Kailas to ask him to beget his heir soon. Shiva decided to oblige the Devas this time, and, opening his third eye, sent out sparks, which he said would give the Devas their warrior. Agni, the lord of fire, was deputed to carry the sparks to Ganga, who would nurture them, but he himself found them so hot, he had to be helped by Vayu, the lord of wind, and somehow managed to deposit the sparks in the river. Ganga, in turn, took the sparks to a sacred lake full of lotuses, where the sparks turned into 6 small children. They were picked up by 6 young girls passing by, who cared for them till Parvati turned up. Once Parvati lifted them, they al merged to form one child with 6 faces – known by various names, such as Karthikeya (since he was nurtured by the 6 Krittikas), Skanda (since he was carried by Agni), Guha (thanks to Vayu), and Shanmukha (6-faced). There are many more such names, but since the story is getting too long, I shall stop with these!

Anyway, Muruga grew up and in time managed to slay, first Tarakasuran, who had taken the form of a huge mountain, and then Simhamukhan, the lion-faced one. According to the story, Simhamukhan regrets the part he has played and apologizes to Muruga, who blesses him that he shall take the form of a lion and act as a vehicle to his mother, Parvati. Finally, he met Surapadman in battle; a battle which seemed would never end. Surapadman took to sorcery, changing shapes before he could be targeted by the Vel, the divine spear. He finally turned into an elephant and then to a tree, when the Vel split him into two. At the last moment of his life, he came to the realization that Muruga was nothing but part of Shiva, his revered lord, and begged forgiveness, and Muruga granted it to him – transforming the two halves of the tree into a peacock and a cock. The peacock he took as his vehicle; and the cock as his emblem on his flag!

This drama is enacted year after year on Skanda Shashti day, at temples to Karthikeya across India. This year, due to the vagaries of the Indian calendar, the day fell twice – once in the first week of November, and again yesterday. We have two temples to Karthikeya in our complex, and they decided to celebrate the festival on different dates. While I missed the celebration at the bigger temple, I was able to attend the celebrations at the smaller temple which is run by the Kukke Subramanya temple near Mangalore. Here, they had a procession all over our colony last night, with bands and people dressed up in various costumes and chanting slokas and Vedas leading and following the deity.It is, in essence, a victory procession for the lord. Let me share with you, images of this wonderful procession…….


Leading the procession - Samhith's favourite animal!



Larger, much larger than life!!!





Looks like a masquerade party!!!



Here come the leading couple......



Followed by the rest....



All aglow in the dark winter night...



Ready with his instrument....



Members of the Panchavadyam troupe...



Time to herald the advent of the Lord!!



Too happy to pose for the camera!!



Bands - of all types!



The trumpeters!



... and the 'mami' band - singing bhajans!



The lord arrives - in his palanquin - Palkhi



A Closer view......



Prayers of the devout.....



Paraphernalia of the Lord's procession .........












Waiting with our offerings.....that's Samhith, trying to peep through!





The procession moves on.....



....and the ladies too....



A final performance before they pass our building...



I was unable to get a good pic of the main deity, though I even  asked the priest to click one for me....... Probably the lord doesn't want his idol here... open for all to view......

It was a wonderful evening, a procession we shall look forward to, year after year!


Comments

  1. Very good write up as usual :) in our story the Lord shiva opens his eyes due to kama , then comes the sparks which destroys him, and also carried to the saravana poigai (the river) to turn into six kids in the lotus.

    Thanks for all the pictures, I felt like being taken in the procession. May Lord Muruga bless all the readers and your family with love and peace.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good narration .
    good pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @ Chitra : thanks!

    @ Sri : Hey, there are lots of versions... this one is the most accepted...... it would be interesting to compile all the different versions, wouldn't it???

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very nice post Anu. Nice narration...liked it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wonderful post Anu. Thanks for sharing the colorful pictures to add to the wonderful narration.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey! How come the 'mami' band was also in uniform :D Amazed that I missed watching all this despite enduring the noise and smoke throughout the day!

    ReplyDelete

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