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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Karthikai - Its Time to Light the lamps!

Karthikai could possibly be called the South Indian equivalent for Diwali. While Diwali for us means Ganga-snanam (purifying bath), new clothes and of course, crackers, it is Karthikai for which all the lamps come out in full force... especially the earthen ones! The festival is celebrated over 3 days - the first day is called Bharani Deepam, the second is called Annamalai Deepam, and the third is Sarvalaya Deepam. The second is the main day, when a huge lamp is lit on the holy mountain of Thiruvannamalai, symbolising the form of Shiva as a never ending pillar of light (Yes, that's another long story, one I dont have time to write right now!). 

In our south-Indian dominated colony, Karthikai arrives with much fanfare, with special pujas in the temple, which I have never attended, thanks to having to celebrate the festival at home, and stay guard over the lamps, which have to be constantly replenished with oil! But more interesting are the beautiful red and white kolams decorating every house and the beautiful lamps which light up the usually dark passages. I have earlier written posts on Karthikai, mentioning different types of lamps, as well as my own celebrations, and this year, here are some photographs once again from the celebrations at my house.....

Welcoming you to my home on the first day.....

A free hand kolam...

Now all lit up!

Those aren't the only lamps....

Some more lamps in the corner.

One of my favourites.. this one lasts for hours and hours!

Another pretty one...

The most important part of the festival - the prasadam! Pori urundai!!! Samhith must have eaten a dozen of these!!
And now for the second day....

Another free hand effort!

All lit and ready!

Kept inside on a plate...

Another set

Samhith bought this one at his school fair!

And finally, this was how the approach to our house looked!

As you can see from these pics, we effectively blocked the path to not just our house, but also the neighbouring  ones with our lamps! And this was just the beginning, for even the others lit their lamps a little later....though not as many as these!!! Apologies too all who had to navigate this flaming stairway for two whole days! Now to pack up all these lamps (more than 65 of them, yes, i counted!) for next year! Sigh!

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  1. Beautiful festival.

  2. The lamps look so enchanting and of course I had never heard of this before!

  3. Thanks Mridula! i guess there are so many festivals in india, that none of us can possibly know abt all of them!!!

  4. Beautiful Anu, Usually I dont' celebrate this festival as our karthik masa is along with diwali.But my neighbour yesterday coaxed me and I too decorated my house with diyas. It was a nice feeling.

  5. THanks chitra! here, karthikai is much more important than diwali ! my in laws light just a couple of lamps for diwali... at my mom's place we used to celebrate both! and for karthikai, i used to draw elaborate kolams inside the house and light lamps in a pattern! cant do that now till samhith grows up! glad to hear that u enjoyed it this year!

  6. Beautiful! This is so new to me Anu. So you celebrate Diwali 2 times a year, I am jealous!!
    Wonderful shots of Rangoli and glittering Diyas.

  7. lovely lamps and light show!

  8. Beautiful, Anu! I know abt this festival but never celebrated at home. Who did the kolams? Pretty designs. I do with dry powder, not the wet ones. Just don't know how to do it. :P

  9. Ah! Very beautiful indeed! I didn't know about this festival, thanks for introducing with such lovely writeup! 

  10. Me, Nisha! I love drawing kolams, esp the ones with the wet flour!

  11. Nice blog with good and interesting information. I always keep in touch with your blog and going to bookmark also.


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