29 February 2012

Temple life

A few weeks ago I spent three days in a temple on the outskirts of Hyderabad. I had gone there during the temple's Brahmotsavam (annual festivities). I was especially interested in seeing the dance rituals which are performed here during this time. This is something I'll be writing about in more detail in my other blog.

The temple was an oasis of calm in a once rural area which is quickly becoming a neighbourhood of glass buildings housing IT companies and upmarket apartment complexes. Entering the temple was like stepping into another world where time had stopped.

The temple priests were busy from dawn to dusk with various prayers and rituals. I felt completely at home here and enjoyed loitering around and observing the goings-on. The atmosphere was completely different to other temples I've visited. Maybe because it's a small family-run temple off the tourist circuit.

A priest chanting Sanskrit verses. (To hear what this sounds like, click on 'temple priests chanting' in the right sidebar under 'Listen to the sounds of India'.) His mobile phone becomes a page marker.

Morning breathing exercises.

I'm not sure what was up here, but I'd love to know!

Priest paraphernalia.
I came across this priest setting up for what looked like an elaborate puja. He was sitting facing a blank wall.

This was the result. An offering to Surya, the sun god. I understood why he performed the puja here: he was facing east. Another example of how art is ritual and ritual is art.

The temple deity, Lord Ranganathaswamy (reclining Vishnu) is seen here in the temple sanctum.
The temple musicians.


Paro said...

Really calming just to see the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth Petrosian said...

You are a wonderful spy, Isabel, to give us so many lovely and evocative photos. Especially love the puja sunburst!

Ganapathy Subramaniam said...

Beautiful. The picture of the old pillars and priests does take you back in time.

Indian Bazaars said...

It does feel good to be within a temple where, as you say, "time has stopped". It would be so nice if the knowledge of the rituals could be documented and translated and exhibited within a part of the temple premises or perhaps housed in a small museum nearby.

Kamla said...

Loved your page.Stumbled on it by chance. The pictures are so beautiful and vivid.And the text is very descriptive. Conveys your love for for people and sorroundings

Isabel said...

Thank you all for visiting and for your words of appreciation.

Unknown said...

Good to see this post. The temple described in the post is run by my cousin's family. My uncle set up a trust which currently manages the temple activities. He built this place with a lot of care and devotion.

I have a lot of fond memories of this place. I first met my wife in this temple premises. We sat down on the the ledge late one evening and discussed about each other. The next day, she agreed to marry me. This was about 16 years ago. I still remember it like it happened just the other day.

I am really happy to see this article here. You did a very good job in describing the place.

Isabel said...

Thank you Raghu Patri for visiting and leaving a comment. I had the pleasure of meeting your cousin's family and they made me feel like I was a guest in their home. I enjoyed reading the story of how you met your wife in this temple. I hope to visit again!