But this time my parents were absolutely sure they will have none of last time’s tamasha and made me shop for skirts which I can wear on this trip. Needless to say, this time, I found myself waiting in the long queue to reach the sannidhi. I have a couple of useless hours on hand so I decide to do what the rest of the crowd is doing best – “Watch The Neighbours”. I do a little extra and study the architecture. It is definitely impressive and definitely beyond my knowledge. I watch kids playing, I watch people buying prasadam, I watch women in something that looks like the-in-thing-at-the-moment – kameez and lengthy petticoats (excuse me, but I thought petticoats were reserved for the saree and was more an undergarment than anything else). So petticoats are acceptable, so are dirty yellow pieces of cloth, not salwar-kameez. Very impressive. Wow!
I let my eyes wander again. Architecture. Pillars. Kodimaram. Kids. Women in petticoats. Stone finished floor. More pillars. And what’s this? The fully exposed thighs of a male member of the Devaswom Committee, chatting away with two others of his clan! Guruvayoorappa! What is this guy doing lifting up his mundu to unmentionable heights in front of such a huge gathering of people, including women? He chats on, looking happy at his achievement. The women look away.
Ente Guruvayoorappa, nee ithonnum kaanunnillae?
Do male Devaswom members have exclusive rights to indecent display of skin inside the temple? I wasn’t aware of this new law. I prepare to get out of the queue in which I have been standing for over 2 hours now. I definitely want to have a word with this man. I turn around to look into the eyes of the man standing behind me. What is that in his eyes? Fear? Shame? Disgust? Disappointment? Just then, my sister who has been standing beside me all this while decides to faint. I half-walk and half-drag her through the throng of people to some fresh air and by the time she is in a better shape to get back to the queue, our Mr. Display and Co. have disappeared.
The queue moves forward. Someone is chanting. Someone else gets emotionally charged on seeing the Lord’s idol and starts crying.
What in the name of God are we all preaching and practising, I wonder. I walk on.