Friday, February 24, 2017

Erettai Tirupathi Transformation

From wading through the Tamaraibarani to be welcomed by Snakes and Bats to the most dramatic Divya Desam transformation - The tale of survival and the new found happiness at Erettai Tirupathi

It has been forty long years since G Seshamani Bhattar took charge of the pooja at the twin temples dedicated to Aravinda Losana and Devapiran at Erettai Tirupathi Divya Desam, the Lords of which Nam Azhvaar saw as his father and mother. For a few years prior, he had been involved with a few temples in Nava Tirupathi on an ad hoc basis. His father in law, Venkatakrishnan, had been performing pooja at Erettai Tirupathi since the 1940s at a low two digit salary. Like his father in law earlier, Seshamani Bhattar too performed pooja in the twin temples of Tholai Villi Mangalam at a miniscule salary that never crossed Rs. 70 per month. And even that he would receive only once a year quite in contrast to Nam Azhvaar's praise of Erettai Tirupathi, one that he described as a wealthy location on the Northern Banks of Tamaraibarani abound with sugarcane, paddy and lotus.

தோக்கும் பக்கம் எல்லாம் கரும்பொடு 
செந்நெல் ஓங்கு செந்தாமரை 
வாய்க்கும் தண் பொருநல் வடகரை 
வண் தொலை வில்லி மங்கலம் 


A Dark Era
Through that dark period (literally) - there was no electricity in the entire Erettai Tirupathi region), Seshamani Bhattar was welcomed every morning with the fizzing noise of the serpants and the flapping of the wings of the bats. The Erettai Tirupathi region was a dense forest inhabitated largely by poisonous snakes. The dark Sannidhi inside the temple proved a perfect abode for hundreds of bats. 

In the early part of the 20th century, there had been a few Brahmin families in the agraharam but they had to be evacuated following several floods the most severe of which struck in the first quarter.

There was not even a mud road to the temple from any of the Nava tirupathi temples. And there were no bridges as well to reach the temple crossing the Tamaraibarani River. The only option to reach the temple was to wade through the chest high water at the river, and then through the dense thicket to the temple.

After he managed to reach the temple, the plight of the Bhattar was quite miserable. With no power facilities, it was largely pitch dark in and around the sannidhi. There was hardly the required quantity of ghee to light the lamp on a regular basis. Worst still, his wait for that odd devotee always proved a futile one. 25 paise thattu kaasu per week was a luxury.

True Devotion a way of life
And yet for two decades, Seshamani Bhattar would arrive at the twin temples every morning at 11am after performing pooja at Thiru Kolur Divya Desam to perform aradhana here at the twin temples. he would then leave at 4pm so as to be in time at Thiru Kolur for the evening pooja there. This was a daily routine for him. His only companions at Erettai Tirupathi were the mammals. The only noise he heard was of the serpent's fizz once again in contrast to Nam Azhvaar's praise of the twin temples being home to Vedic Chants through the day and the presence of beautiful girls dancing their way around the temples. 

திருந்து  வேதமும் வேள்வியும்
திரு மா மகளிரும் தாம் மலிந்து 
இருந்து வாழ் பொருநல் வடகரை 
வண் தொலை வில்லி மங்கலம் 
Decades earlier, his father in law used to engage bullock cart once in a while to move around but once Seshamani Bhattar joined Erettai Tirupathi his only mode of transport was the long 6 km walk across the Tamaraibarani.

True devotion to the Lord kept them going. During that dark phase of life, Seshamani Bhattar rarely went outside of these temples in search of additional sources of income for he was committed to the Lords of Erettai Tirupathi and Thiru Kolur.

And then things turned for the worse in the early 1990s. Ravaged by floods in the Tamaraibarani, the temple had reached a state of total dilapidation. Water levels reached the feet of the Lord inside the temple. It seemed to be a helpless state for the Bhattar with nowhere to turn to. 
While on one side there was very little financial security with a low two digit monthly salary, on the other there was always the threat of physical attack by animals including the real possibility of snake bites. Encountering snakes inside the temple was a regular feature for both Venkatakrishnan Bhattar as well as Seshamani Bhattar.

Large shrubs had come up on the Vimana and the inner walls. The prakara was covered with huge bushes and no devotee could go around the sannidhi in either of the temples.

The only time the temple really lit up was on Maasi Anusham when Nam Azhvaar made his way across the Tamarai Barani for a day long stay here. That brought in groups of devotees from Azhvaar Tirunagari and around.

86 year old Appu Sadagopachari, a resident of Azhvaar Tirunagari from the pre independence days has great memories of his trips to Erettai Tirupathi ‘The water in the Tamaraibarani would flow through to the East at constant speed. I would walk across to the Southern Banks and get on to the river. We would recite slokas and reach the Northern Banks. The annual Maasi utsavam was a day of celebration at the twin temples for that was the big day of the year as the Lords at each of the temples welcomed Nam Azhvaar for the day long stay.” 

Following the floods in the early 1990s, the twin temples seemed to be on the verge of collapse.

Appu Sadagopachari vividly remembers those days. He points to the roof above the location we were chatting and with a blink of an eye folds his hands in prayer to Lord Aravinda Losana for having protected them. ‘The roof could have fallen off any time. There were pillars hanging around. Water had seeped in right to the sanctum.’

Seshamani Bhattar has tears in his eyes when he narrates his struggle in that phase of life “The temple structure itself seemed to be going down as a result of the floods and there was a real threat of one of the Divya Desams being lost to the Vaishnavite world.  The entire temple complex was stuck with dirty water and filth.’
The Transformation
And then one of the biggest transformations in Divya Desams in Tamil Nadu came about in a rather unexpected way and quite out of the blue.

Venu Srinivasan received a call in 1993 from a minister, who after having been shocked at the dilapidated state of Erettai Tirupathi was keen to revive the entire Nava Tirupathi temples. It was an important call for otherwise it could have led to the downfall of a historical temple that had been highly praised by Nam Azhvaar.

Along with other entrepreneurs and business men that included Thayagaraja and Ashok Nadar, Venu Srinivasan set about creating an infrastructure to restore all the temples to its glorious past. He roped in Ganapathi Stapathi to take a look at the structure and sought ways to restore each of the temples. It was Venu Srinivasan's first real foray into temple restoration services (previously he had been involved in restoring a temple in Arcot - Padai Veedu).

While Venu Srinivasan orchestrated the revival of all the temples there, Erettai Tirupathi was a special one for him, for Ganapathi Stapathi personally suggested that he take up the entire restoration efforts of Tholai Villi Mangalam on himself. And that’s exactly what he did.

Architectural Restoration
Each of the pillars and stones were numbered so as to not lose any of the ancient pieces of work. The outer walls were strengthened. Sky lighting was installed. Special provisions were made for ventilation that now provides light into the mandapa opposite the sanctum. As it involved restoration, the focus was on quality and not on speed and thus the entire process took almost three years, much longer than it would have taken otherwise.


More important was the revival of festivals that was to follow.

Revival of the Brahmotsavam
Nam Azhvaar had praised this Divya Desam as one that flourished with festival sounds.
குமுறும் ஓசை விழவு ஒலித் தொலை வில்லி மங்கலம் 

The annual Brahmotsavam including all the Vahana processions was revived at the twin temples of Aravinda Losana and Devapiran. One of the important deterrents previously had been the lack of access to the temple. With no power and no roads to the temple, the only option was to walk across the Tamaraibarani. Over a period of time, roads were built from each of the other Nava Tirupathi temples. Power connection became a reality. Presentation of Thaligai to the Lord both in the morning as well as in the evening was another step in the revival.  
Seshamani Bhattar who performed daily pooja in three temples for over two decades at a salary of less than Rs. 100 per month was assigned the Devapiran Sannidhi as an exclusive temple with a monthly Sambhavanai that was several multiples of what he had received over the last many years. The Bhattar’s monthly income touched four digit for the first time in 1998.

There was also a separate full time priest assigned to Aravinda Losana temple, the Northern temple at Erettai Tirupathi.

Love and care was extended to animals as well. When the temple elephant at Perungulum died, he was given a royal send off as a token of gratitude to the years of services he had rendered to Lord Mayakoothan. Not a single Bat in the twin temples of Erettai Tirupathi was killed in the transformational exercise. They were all picked up and let out in the nearby hills giving them a fresh lease of life.

More improvements followed making a visit to the entire Nava Tirupathi a reality. In decades gone by, one had to spend at least two days to visit the nine temples. Today, most devotees complete the entire Nava Tirupathi in half a day. It was during that phase post the restoration initiatives that a chart was prepared and pasted at each of the Nava Tirupathi temples providing a clear route map and the timing of each of the temples. Other amenities too were spruced up. There is now a clean public toilet complex in the region with branded urinals.

Entrepreneurial Movement
In addition to restoring the temple to its ancient glory, Venu Srinivasan felt that there had to be economic development in the village and initiated Self Help Groups to undertake activities that included converting waste product into renewable. Over the last decade or so, these SHGs have even gone on to receive national awards for village development activities.

The restoration of Nava Tirupathi temples has also served as a boost to entrepreneurs in the region for the cab services have seen a dramatic rise in their fortunes with regular weekend trips from Tirunelveli.

With his son wanting him to lead a retired life in Madras, Appu Sadagopachari had one eye on settling down in Thiruvanmiyur. But for one who had seen the worst of Erettai Tirupathi, this transformation was to be savoured and enjoyed. And when the call came from Venu Srinivasan asking him to take care of ensuring the presentation of Thaligai at Erettai Tirupathi, he just could not refuse.

An auto has been assigned to pick him up every morning from his house on the North Street of Azhvaar Tirunagari to take him to Erettai Tirupathi. Following the presentation of the Thaligai, he returns by auto for an afternoon nap at his home town.

He is thrilled at this unexpected transformation since the mid 1990s ‘No one foresaw this transformation. For those who had personally witnessed the ravages of the time, the support rendered by Venu Srinivasan was truly a God sent blessing to the residents of Nava Tirupathi. After several decades of financial turmoil and wading through the rough troughs of the nature’s fury, one now finds a lot of happiness in the faces of the Bhattars and their support staff with the new financial security and the positive vibration emerging out of the increased number of devotees.’
Seshamani Bhattar is past 60. He continues to perform pooja at Devapiran temple post his official retirement. There are enough reasons now for him to celebrate with both his sons ( Raghu and Balaji Bhattar) having chosen to stick to temple kainkaryam despite the financial plight of his father and grandfather over the 2nd half of the 20th century. The monthly Sambavanai presented by Venu Srinivasan and the increased ‘Thattu Kasu’ have provided great financial security to the sons of Seshamani Bhattar. Each (of his sons) takes care of one temple and one can sense a general sense of happiness in them while at the temple.

Earlier this week, it was a delight to find a large crowd at the annual Maasi Anusham festival at Erettai Tirupathi (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2017/02/erettai-tirupathi-maasi-anusham-festival.html).

Just the happy faces of the Bhattars at Erettai Tirupathi would have made this restoration a worthwhile exercise. For the devoted Seshamani Bhattar, it is finally happy times to be seeing human faces around him through the day from the previously lonely life at the temple spent alongside reptiles and mammals!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Erettai Tirupathi Maasi Anusham Festival

Nam Azhvaar’s annual trip to Tholai Villi Mangalam to invoke the blessings of his parents on his return journey from Srirangam  is said to mark the culmination of the Adyayana Utsavam here

Recital of the 10th Canto of Tiruvoimozhi, Thirumanjanam, Araiyar Sevai, a stop over at Appan Koil and sacred food from Azhvaar Tirunagari feature on this festive occasion at Tholai Villi Mangalam 
The legendary episode of Nam Azhvaar making his way to Erettai Tirupathi after witnessing the Adyayana Utsavam in Srirangam to meet his parents was played out with great devotional fervor on Maasi Anusham on the Northern banks of Tamarai Barani. Nam Azhvaar, in his Tiruvoimozhi verses had praised the twin temples of Erettai Tirupathi referring to this place Tholai Villi Mangalam (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2010/09/erettai-tirupathi.html)

Legend has it that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar came to Azhvaar Tirunagari to invite Nam Azhvaar to witness the Adyayana Utsavam in Srirangam in Margazhi, one that had been created and organized by the former in recognition of the contribution of the latter.

Having enjoyed the presentation of the four thousand sacred verses by the revered Araiyars at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, Nam Azhvaar is believed to have reached Tholai Villi Mangalam on the Anusham day in Maasi to invoke the blessings of his parents. As described in Tiruvoimozhi (6.5.10), Nam Azhvaar saw Lord Devapiran of Erettai Tirupathi at Tholai Villi Mangalam as his mother and father.

 சிந்தையாலும் சொல்லாலும் செய்கையினாலும் 
தேவ பிரானையே 
தந்தை தாய் என் று அடைந்த 
வன் குருகூர் அவர் சடகோபன் சொல் 

முந்தை ஆயிரத்துள் இவை 
தொலை வில்லி மங்கலத்தை சொன்ன
செந்தமிழ் பத்தும் வல்லார் 
அடிமை செய்வார் திருமாலுக்கே 

Hence, before returning to his abode at Azhvaar Tirunagari, Nam Azhvaar insisted that they take a detour to Tholai Villi Mangalam so he could pay his respects to his parents.

This legendary episode was played out on Sunday in front of a large devotee crowd at the twin temples of Tholai Villi Mangalam.

Till the 1990s, when there was a transformation of the twin temples, this annual trip of Nam Azhvaar to Tholai Villi Mangalam was the only festival celebrated at Erettai Tirupathi.

While he does not make a trip anymore to Srirangam, the event relating to Nam Azhvaar's day out at Erettai Tirupathi continues to be an important day in the festival calendar at Nava Tirupathi.

On Sunday morning, Nam Azhvaar started out from Azhvaar Tirunagari at 630am after an early wake-up call at 430am for a special alankaram. Carried on the shoulders in the traditional way by the Sri Patham Thangis of Azhvaar Tirunagari, Nam Azhvaar made his way through the Tamaraibarani to reach the historical Appan Koil, about 2kms West of Erettai Tirupathi, at 730 am.

Appan Koil- a special idol of Thiruvengata Mudayan
Thiruvenkata Mudayan of Appan Koil was the aradhana idol of Nam Azhvaar’s father. Hence on his way to Erettai Tirupathi, Nam Azhvaar made a halt at this temple evoking memories of his father's sincere devotion rendered to the Lord at this temple.

In an appreciative gesture of Sri Patham Thangis devotional service to carry Nam Azhvaar on a palanquin from his home town of Azhvaar Tirunagari to Erettai Tirupathi on their shoulders (in many Divya Desams across Tamil Nadu, Lord is now carried on processions on wheeled tyres even on occasions such as Brahmotsavam given the shortage of traditional Sri Patham Thangis!!!), Araiyar Nathan of Azhvaar Tirunagari presented a grand Thaligai to all those present that morning at Appan Koil.

Interestingly over the last few years, Araiyar Nathan has also come forward to perform the daily aradhana of the Lord at Appan Koil.

Aravinda Losanar welcomes Nam Azhvaar
After the stopover at Appan Koil, Nam Azhvaar reached Aravinda Losana Temple, one of the twin temples at Thulaivilli Mangalam. The utsava deity of Aravinda Losana welcomed Nam Azhvaar and presented him with his garland and parivattam much to the delight of the hundreds of devotees who had gathered at Erettai Tirupathi on Sunday morning. 
The 10th Canto of Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi that also included praise of Thiru Maliruncholai and Thiruper Nagar was presented with great devotion by the large Ghosti that had arrived from Azhvaar Tirunagari.

The Araiyars of Azhvaar Tirunagari are entrusted with the exclusive rights to present 10 of those verses. Araiyar Nathan, with the sacred red cone like cap on his head, the two cymbals in his hand and a special garland across his body, presented the final ten verses of Tiruvoimozhi.

Soon after, Nam Azhvaar turned South towards the banks of Tamarai Barani to have darshan of Lord Devapiran, a few hundred yards from Aravinda Losana temple. The presentation of theertham brought to end the proceedings for the morning by 930am much earlier than usual. 

While a large number of devotees who had come from outside locations made their way to the rest of the Nava Tirupathi temples, Nam Azhvaar took a well earned rest for a few hours at the Devapiran temple.

A one hour Thirumanjanam
By 2.30pm, the devotees were back at Erettai Tirupathi to witness the hour long sacred bath presented to Nam Azhvaar. The Araiyar presented the sacred sandal wood paste and the oil to all the devotees who witnessed the Thirumanjanam. 

Thaligai brought by walk from Aathi Nathan temple
An interesting feature of the evening event was the presentation of Thaligai from Aathi Nathan temple in Azhvaar Tirunagari. To this day, the traditions have been upheld and the sacred food is carried on the head to the beating of the drum as the team walks all the way from Aathi Nathan temple in Thiru Kurugur (6 kms away) across the Tamarai Barani to the Devapiran temple. While easier options like bringing the food by modern means of transport are possible, it is great credit to the team at Aathi Nathan temple that short cut options to quicken the conduct of the evening utsavam have not been exercised to-date.  

Conclusion of Adyayana Utsavam in Erettai Tirupathi
Following the presentation of the Thaligai, the ghosti team of around 50 members presented 90 verses of  the 10th Canto of Tiruvoimozhi starting with the praise of the Lords of Thiru Mogur and Thiru Ananthapuram while Araiyar Nathan presented 10 verses.

The series of events on Maasi Anusham also signifies the conclusion of the Adyayana Utsavam in Erettai Tirupathi. 

Devapiran watches the son return to Azhvaar Tirunagari
12 hours after he began his trip from the Southern banks of Tamaraibarani, it was now time for Nam Azhvaar to bid good bye to Devapiran for yet another year. Like a dutiful parent, Devapiran stood patiently at the junction of Erettai Tirupathi watching his son wade way through the dark into the far western corner of Erettai Tirupathi on his way back to Azhvaar Tirunagari.

Late on Sunday evening, Lord Devapiran returned to his sanctum amidst the chanting of Ramanuja Nootranthathi.

Celebrating the Founding Day of Nam Azhvaar's Utsava Idol!!!

A day earlier, on Maasi Visakam, Nam Azhvaar had another reason to celebrate for it was the day when Madurakavi Azhvaar found the idol on the banks of Tamarai Barani.  Nam Azhvaar made a trip to the Tamarai Barani on Saturday morning for the Theerthavari utsavam in memory of the founding day of his idol.

Erettai Tirupathi is on the Northern banks of Tamaraibarani and is one of the Nava Tirupathi Divya Desams about 30 kms from Tirunelveli (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/07/108-divya-desam-nava-tirupathi.html)


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sembanar Koil

The place where Indra performed pooja to secure the Vajra Yudha

Located just under 10kms from Mayiladuthurai on the Thiru Kadaiyur highway is the ancient Swarnapureeswarar temple in Sembanar Koil, one that has been praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Thirunavukkarasarar


Thiru Gnana Sambanthar in his praise of the Lord of Sembanar Koil says that those who offer their sincere prayers will be kept away from miseries of life. He also describes the fiery features of the Lord.

This is one of the Veerateswarar temples.

On the pillars of the temple are several sculptures including those of a King, his wife, his ministers and of Bikshandar. There are still a number of inscriptions inside the temple dating back a 1000 years.
It was here at this place that Indra performed pooja invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva to secure the dreaded Vajra Yudha in a bid to demolish Vridasura. It was also here that Muruga invoked the Lord’s blessings in his endeavour to kill Tharakasura.

Brahmma’s son Daksha failed to invite Lord Shiva to a yagna. An angry Shiva presented Veerabadrar to nullify the yagna. Dakshayani, the daughter of Daksha undertook penance to seek the blessings of Shiva and an apology on behalf of her father.

Sage Agastya, Indra, Brahmma, Surya and Chandra performed pooja at this place.

Lord Swarnapureeswarar is seen in an East facing posture while Ambal is seen facing the West.

Festivals
Chitrai Festival- Sun’s rays fall on the Lord for 10 days from the 7th day
There was a grand Brahmotsavam that took place in Aani once upon a time. But over a period of time, this had come to a halt, though to this day, we find a number of vahanas inside the temple.

Abhishekam for Sugantha Ambikambal on Aadi Pooram
Theerthavari on Thai Poosam
One day procession in Navarathri

How to reach
One can board the bus towards Thiru Kadaiyur/ Karaikal. The temple is a few minutes away from the Sembanar Koil bus stand. An auto from Mayiladurthurai will cost Rs. 250.

The temple is open from 730am to 12noon and from 430pm to 830pm. Contact Muthu Kumar Gurukal @ 99437 97974

Saturday, February 11, 2017

IOB honours Ananthapadmanabhan

A Memorable Day in Ananthapadmanabhan's career
Becomes First Cricketer from the Bank to be honoured on the Founder's Day
'Great Gesture by the Bank to felicitate Ananth' - V Krishnaswamy (former GM, IOB/ TN Opener)
Ananthapadmanbhan being felicitated by R Subramania Kumar, MD and CEO, IOB

It was late evening on Monday (Feb 6).  Former Kerala Ranji leg spinner and now a top BCCI umpire (he umpired this year's Ranji Semi Final), KN Ananthapadmanabhan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/09/ananthapadmanabhan-kn.html) an IOB staffer for almost 25 years was ready to hit the bed for there was a coin counting exercise at the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/11/anantha-padmanabhaswamy-temple-in.html the next morning.

He had heard of K Parthasarathy, GM (Treasury) and Head HR, IOB as being a strict disciplinarian and tough on implementation of rules and hence a call from the head quarters in Madras made him a little tense but by the end of the call, Ananthapadmanabhan had been left speechless and stunned.

Parthasarathy's call was to inform him that he had been chosen exclusively as the only cricketer in the last many decades to be officially felicitated by the Bank’s MD on the occasion of the founder's day celebrations for his tireless contribution to the bank's cricket as well as his recent achievements in Umpiring.

Cricketers from the era gone by here in Tamil Nadu considered it a great achievement to be noticed and recognised by their institution. To them, receiving a praise from the Chief in their organization meant a lot more than financial incentives. 


For the MD of such a large Public Sector Bank that has been renowned for several decades for promoting cricket to be personally felicitating him and for him to be the first such recipient on the founder's day made it a memorable evening for him. 

B. Kalyanasudaram, former TN fast bowling great, always considered it an honour to be playing for Chemplast watched from the sidelines by his chairman KS Narayanan and in fact contributed to the success (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2013/07/cricket-in-1970s-ks-narayanan-packs-off.html). The motivation to perform in front of them was huge. He was once told by the chairman to go and play a Buchi Babu match citing that Kalli only had an injury in the left hand where as he was a right arm fast bowler!!!! And Kalli duly obliged.' … 

'Through the 1990s, Ananthapadmanabhan was a great source of inspiration and leader of the team. He was very hard working and bowled long continuous spells. He brought in lot of youngsters into the team and helped them develop. He developed very good relationship with players like Amit Pathak, Rajesh Kannan and Subbiah among others. He has contributed immensely to the team and was to a good extent responsible for IOB being one of the leading teams in TN cricket by the turn of this century.'

His batting against MRF 
Recollecting a particular performance of Ananthapadmanabhan on a matting wicket at the Anna University ground, Krishnaswamy says ‘I vividly remember that match against Globe Trotters comprising of top fast bowlers from the MRF Pace Foundation as it showed the value of Ananth to the team and the confidence others had in his abilities.'

'After having taken 4 or 5 wickets with the ball, Ananthapadmanabhan was promoted in the batting order by his captain S Satish Kumar (Ramar Satish) ahead of 1-2 pure batsmen after IOB was tottering at 4 wickets down. Reposing his captain's faith in his batting abilities, Ananth batted with grit and determination and put on a century partnership with Satish against quality pacers on that matting wicket to ensure first innings lead for IOB.'

In fact, he credits some of those early batting performances for IOB for the big centuries that he scored later for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy.

Welcoming Ananthapadmanabhan at the 80th founder’s day celebrations, Parthasarathy said, ‘Ananthapadmanabhan made a big career jump in the early 1990s as a youngster and took a bold call to join IOB from a top cricketing club such as Chemplast. Since then, his contribution to our cricketing team has been immense. He has also now become a top umpire of the BCCI. We wish him well with his umpiring career and we hope that he will soon make the bank proud by becoming an international umpire.’  

On the idea of honouring Ananthapadmanabhan, Parthasarathy, who himself was a cricketer in the 1970s and 80s says ‘He has made a significant contribution to the bank over the last two decades, both with his personal achievements as well as bringing the team together, especially in the 2nd half of the 1990s and we felt he deserves this honour to be felicitated by our MD.'

Interestingly, Ananthapadmanabhan joined IOB in the early 1990s from Chemplast after being spotted and identified by former IOB great V. Krishnaswamy  (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/08/krishnaswamy-v.html). Since then, he played first division league cricket for IOB for around 15 years amassing a tally of around 500 wickets in the Palayampatti Championship. He also captained IOB for 6 years during this period, a phase when IOB did particularly well in the league.
Former TN Ranji opener V Krishnaswamy, who retired as the GM of IOB a few years ago is credited with mentoring many youngsters at the bank from the late 1970sand was instrumental in roping in Ananthapadmanabhan into IOB in the 1990s.  ‘I think it is a great gesture on the part of the bank in felicitating K N Ananthapadmanabhan for his cricket contribution to the bank. It is not just a recognition of his cricket abilities but also his umpiring skills as he is one of leading first class umpires in the country now.’

On being felicitated personally by the bank’s MD in front of a large audience that comprised of the bank’s top many decades old customers, industrialists from the city and Dr. V. Shantha, the chief of the Cancer institute, a delighted Ananthapadmanabhan told prtraveller 

‘It is really a great honour to be recognized by my institution for my cricketing contribution. This ranks as one of my best moments in cricket, especially since this has come almost a decade after I stopped playing. In my early days as a cricketer, Kicha Sir used to call me and convey his appreciation after every special performance. That really boosted my confidence and spurred me on to the next level. Similarly, Parthasarathy Sir appreciating my umpiring and wishing me to become an international umpire is a great confidence boost coming as it does from a well respected person in the management.’

KN Ananthapadmanabhan was felicitated by R Subramania Kumar, MD and CEO, IOB at the 80th Founder's Day on Friday ( Feb 10, 2017) evening held at Vidhyodhaya School in T. Nagar.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Irai Anbu Kalloori Kalangal touches 450 episodes

A rank holder in Civil Services Examination from the mid 1980s, Irai Anbu has remained steadfast in his commitment to continued contribution to the society

From his transformational achievements in Nagapattinam, Kanchipuram and during Tsunami, since mid 2015, he has been engaged in selfless service of helping students take the right steps during the critical phase of college life through 'Kalloori Kalangal' every weeknight at 10. 30 pm
V. Irai Anbu (IAS) (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2015/09/irai-anbu-ias_19.html) anchored Kalloori Kalangai is touching 450 episodes this week on Pothigai Channel.  It is probably the most educative series that has ever been run on a Tamil Television network. Over the last 1 ½ years, he has moved on from presenting some of the basic and important facets of a college life to now providing intellectually stimulating insights into the preparation for a competitive examination.

His simplicity and modesty of presentation is breathtaking.  Rarely have we found a top notch official from Tamil Nadu spend this amount of time in an endeavour to reach out and guide the Next Gen with a step by step process to approaching a competitive examination .

Learning never stops is an oft repeated phrase. Irai Anbu is an embodiment of this as he moves from one degree to another, what he calls an enriching experience to expand one’s horizon. Irai Anbu refers to himself as a pilgrim in the path of knowledge. After entry into the service, he has completed M.B.A., M.A. (English), M.A. (Labour Management), M.Sc. (Psychology), Ph.D. (Business Administration), Ph.D. (English) and Post Doctorate (Management). He has also done his Praveen in Hindi and Kovidaha in Sanskrit.

Even at work he uses the same analogy ‘One has to move from one department to another every few years to understand and experience the varied challenges in life so as to contribute to the society in a positive manner’ is his message on Kalloori Kalangal.

In a way, the students of the newgen are truly blessed that in recent years Irai Anbu has not been assigned an important portfolio on the work front, after having contributed to significant transformational causes across Tamil Nadu during the 1990s as well as in the first decade of this century.  This blessing in disguise has meant that he has been able to allocate enough time to share his experiences with the students on various forums including the record breaking series on Pothigai TV.

It is particularly enlightening when he talks about his own missed opportunities and his delayed entry into the IAS during that phase in the mid 80s. His suggestions to the new college entrants who have an eye on the competitive exam are simple and easily to follow and implement. In recent months, he has also added a Q & A with the students as part of Kalloori Kalangal making it even more rewarding for the students. 

Sometimes he rolls out verses from the Thiru Kural and the Dharmic philosophies enshrined therein. At other times, he goes into history and talks about the contribution of Indus Valley Civilisation and the kind of intense contribution to the society even during those early times. 

A state first in TN in the civil services examination, Irai Anbu has worked in the Government for nearly 30 years in close association with the rural poor while espousing their cause. Right from the beginning of his career, he has been known for his honesty and integrity. He introduced training for women auto drivers for the first time in the State extending credit facilities through banks for the purchase of vehicles after the training. As District Collector, Kanchipuram, he took an active part in abolishing child labour engaged in silk looms.
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He has addressed 2000 gatherings in an attempt to motivate students on social causes. His book on preparation for Civil Services is a must read, one that gives impetus to students looking to take on the competitive examinations. An author of over 50 books, he has personally guided 100s of candidates in the process of gaining entry into civil services. Over 50 of them have gone on to achieve their doctorate.

Kalloori Kalangal is truly a boon to the college students on not just taking up the competitive examinations but also on the right way to lead life, especially during the teenage phase.

Kudos to Irai Anbu for his significant selfless contribution to the student community and for being a guiding light in their endeavour to achieving success in life.


Kalloori Kalangal is telecast every weeknight between 10.30pm and 11pm

Friday, February 3, 2017

Chaya Vaneswarar Chayavanam

Mada Koil built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan
The idol of Lord Muruga is similar to the one at Tiruchendur
A separate Sannidhi for Indra at this temple 

Located 3kms West of Poompuhar is the Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Thirunavukarasar praised Chaya Vaneswarar temple in Chayavanam. This temple is just ½ km West of Pallaveswarar temple in Poompuhar (another Thevaram temple). This is one of the Mada Koil built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan.

The legend
This is the birth place of Iyarpai Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars. Both he and his wife were true Saivite devotees. Iyarpai was known to follow the path of Dharma and he would never say no to a request. To test the sincerity of their devotion, Lord Shiva made his to their house disguised as a Brahmin devotee. As was the practice in those days, the host was to take care of the guests in the best possible way.

At the end of the trip, the devotee made a shocking request of sending Iyarpai Nayanar’s wife along with him. Bound by the duty of offering a guest’s wish, Iyarpai Nayanar acceded to the request and his wife followed the devotee away from the town. Worried that the residents of the agraharam may attack the outside guest, the disguised Brahmin asked Iyarpai Nayanar to accompany them till the end of the town. 

In a grand gesture, Iyarpagai calmed the people down stating that he had given his word to the guest and that they have to help him fulfill the promise that had been given.

On his return to Chayavanam, Iyarpai Nayanar was delighted to find Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi providing darshan at his place and showcasing to the world as to how the God rewards his true devotees. In a rewarding gesture, Iyarpai Nayanar and his wife were taken to the abode of the Lord and thus he attained Mukthi at this place.

Idol of Muruga
A special feature at this temple is the handsome idol of Lord Muruga who is a posture similar to the one at Tiruchendur as a Samhara Idol with a bow in hand and wearing anklet in the leg. It is believed that this idol was located on the sea shore at Poompuhar a few kms from here.

A separate sannidhi for Indra
Athithi, mother of Indira was keen on having darshan of Lord Chaya Vaneswarar. Startled at her sudden vanishing act, he came here and performed pooja. To fulfill his mother’s wish, Indra tried to pull the temple away to his abode through his strong elephant Iravatham. While in this process, Ambal presented a beautiful song with the words ‘Koo hoo’. Lord suggested to him that it would not be possible for him to come there and that he will bless him with a special sannidhi here at this temple for him to be ever present here providing darshan to devotees.

97 year old Balasubramanian Shivacharya had performed pooja at this temple for over 70 years. In 1977, his hand was almost broken into two following an injury but he still continued to perform pooja for many years in a devoted manner. His sincerity was such that he came to be called as ‘Jilla’ Gurukal.

Festivals
Rudra Abhishekam on the last Friday of Thai
21 day festival for Indra in Chitrai
5 day Iyarpagai Nayanar festival in Margazhi

On the fourth day of this festival, the episode of Lord Chaya Vaneswarar providing darshan to Iyarpagai Nayanar is enacted at this temple.

Temple Time: 9am -12noon and 430pm-8pm
Contact Chandrasekara Gurukal @ 94431 07069 

How to reach
The temple is on the district highway 20kms from both Mayiladuthurai and Sirkazhi. Poompuhar bound buses ply every 30 minutes from Mayiladuthurai and Sirkazhi. Get down in front of the temple arch at Chayavanam.

Kethu Sthalam of Keezha Perumpallam is about 2 kms from here


Auto from Poompuhar will cost Rs. 75. Contact Auto: 91596 04647