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Around Arunachala

November 20, 2014

One thing about Tiruvannamalai: there is almost always something happening on the road around the mountain. Here are a few photos of different things we have seen recently.

There are many signs on Girivalam Road. There are many walkers, so many people are selling or advertising to them.

Get your Rudrakshas here. From the pictures on the sign, we were actually led to inquire about the real nature of Rudrakshas.

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Along the road, past Adi Annamalai, there is a shrine to Babaji. This sign appears across the street. It is the lineage of Babaji, whose “likeness” is shown in the center.

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Below is a sign that shows Vallalar, also called Ramalinga Swamigal. He was a saint who lived most of the time in a village west of Chidabaram. He traveled to Chennai for a time, but there is no evidence he was in Tiruvannamalai. He is said to have entered his room one day, having given instructions not to try to open the door. His body de-materialized. So he is shown in white with a typical ghost-like appearance.

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There are many different ashrams around the mountain. Here is the Shridi Sai Sadhacon Scientific Divine Ashram. It would probably be interesting to investigate every one of them.

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On the Pradakshina road, buildings are painted with advertising, as they are many places in India and elsewhere. Ramraj underwear is frequently advertised.

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Signs come and go. This one is gone today.

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Nice house, with an underwear ad. We wonder how much the house owners are paid for the privilege of having advertising on the outside.

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Politics. Below is a building corner with symbols of competing factions. The rising sun is the DMK political party. The two green leaves are the AIADMK party. They are bitter rivals in Tamil Nadu,and both have had periods of ascendency in the state.  Recently we have seen the symbols painted together on some buildings, as if the owners are hedging their bets.

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DMK on this house.

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More competition, or bet-hedging.

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In Adi Annamalai village there is a temple on the road, with the 63 saints painted on the wall. I am not sure what this green object is. Do you know? We were attracted to the abstract “figure” “holding” the pole.

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There was drumming coming from inside the temple. When we went around the corner, we saw people involved in a ritual. Their leader is blowing a conch shell. Does this call the god?

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Here is another mysterious sign. What is this man doing? He is holding something—the world?—over a lingam. I wonder what this is? It would be helpful if we could read Tamil.

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A phone company has painted all these houses with their yellow signs.

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Here comes a procession. The banner, written in a language that is not Tamil, shows Satya Sai Baba with Ramana. The men are in front.

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The women are in back. They wear their sarees in the typical Sai Baba fashion, with both shoulders covered. They all have saffron scarves.

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Here is one of our favorite old lady beggars.

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Not to be outdone by the Sai Baba devotees, here is a parade of AIADMK supporters. All over the state there were agitations because their leader, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, was sent to jail for corruption.

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Now this is a cow of a different kind. A special “Holy Cow.” It has an extra appendage growing out of its back, with an extra set of horns growing from it.

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People come over to get blessed by the cow. The owner of the cow places the appendage on the head of elderly lady below while he intones a blessing. After the blessing, she crawled underneath the cowand came out the other side.

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Here’s another lady being blessed by the attendant, after donating some rupees. Carol also received a blessing. The owner placed the appendage on her head with a disconcerting clunk.

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This special cow wears a special crown. Perhaps you will see her on the road on the day of the full moon walk.

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Just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see here, you are treated to more amazing sights. There is always something. We hope you can go out and look for yourself!


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