We took my new camera and tripod out last night – November 2, 2009, and shot pictures on Girivalam Road of some of the activity this Full Moon night. We were in the area near Kannapa Temple, and the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam.
Also shown in this posting is the first video shoot this season by Jim Clark and Robin Moore. Jim is a video documentarist and is working on a video, tentatively named ‘Within’, that will show “the inner experience of Arunachala.” Jim was here for two months, earlier in the year, shooting, and now is back with Robin, another videographer, for another two months of shooting. This time Jim brought a crane with him so that he can get some more interesting shooting angles. This night was their first time shooting with the crane.
The Full Moon over Arunachala
It was a cloudy night. Here is the moon at about 8 PM.
When we arrive there are thousands of people walking around Arunachala.
Here is the Raja Rajeshwari Shrine, the temple of the Divine Mother. This is a popular stop along the girivalam route.
Across the street is a food booth. With hundreds of thousands of people walking, there are many places to eat. Some are giving out food for free. Some are booths set up just for the one day and night and maybe constitute the owner’s main income for the month.
One nice thing about this booth is the chairs. By now people have walked about 7 K, so are ready to sit down for a bit.
This woman at another food stall across the street sits alone. She has no customers, while across the street many stop and eat. She has chairs, too. But they are all empty.
A pineapple vendor slices a freshly cut pineapple. Rs 2 per slice.
Outside the Raja Rajeshwari Shrine, there is a camphor flame burning. People stop and bless themselves with the flame. Some add pieces of camphor to fuel the flame.
Looking into the shrine.
People continue to bless themselves with the camphor flame.
This woman sits near the gate to the shrine, selling camphor.
Across the street is the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam. There is one photo of him that is seen again and again. It is featured on the billboard (“hoarding”, in India) seen here.
A sugarcane juice vendor is running cane through his machine to press out the juice.
A man sleeps by the road. I have heard it said that Indians can sleep anywhere.
Popcorn, get your freshly popped popcorn.
People stream by constantly without a letup.
Up the street in the Palani Andavar Shrine, another popular place tonight.
The camphor flame burns outside the entrance.
Besides food, people need drinks. This stand sells “Lime Sodas.” This is a fresh lime atop a bottle of soda water. Squeeze the lime into the water and drink. These kind of bottles are reused. The vendor will get them recharged in town for the next use.
Water in small bags and bottles. Packaged water is found all along the route, so this is one time that you do not need to bring your own water for the walk.
A Nithyananda van, parked outside his compound. He is from Tiruvannamalai, a “local boy made good.” Some of our rickshaw driver friends went to school with him. He is one of the most popular young spiritual leaders in the country right now. His main ashram is in Bangalore. It looks like lots of money is flowing into his coffers.
Outside the compound, people watch Nithyananda videos.
below, the main sign for the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam (with the same picture).
Walking into the compound. There are many, many people in here.
In the entrance there are tables on both side, hawking the Nithyananda wares.
It looks like he has his own line of healing herbal products, sold at a table by the entrance.
This is a giant lingam billboard. Behind it are the 1008 lingams. They do not let us take our camera beyond this point.
I see one reason that so many people are here. Look at this long line!
They are queued up to receive a free meal. I think he will serve 10 thousand or more meals tonight.
I walked up a path next to his compound. There are hundreds of people walking around the 1008 lingams.
Jim’s Nighttime Girivalam Video Shoot
There are four bags with video equipment. Two are normal suitcases filled with various video camera gear, and two are special black bags, about 1.5 feet square by 6 feet long. These carry the crane, which is assembled (and disassembled) for each use.
The crane is assembled and Robin and Jim are looking at the monitor to see what the camera is shooting.
Behind them is a crowd of onlookers. Many people stopped tonight to see what they are doing. No one has seen anything like it before.
The camera is hung out into the crowd of people walking by. Amazingly, no one runs into the camera.
Jim is at the camera end, thinking about the shooting situation and camera angles.
Rolling the crane to another location. Be careful so it doesn’t tip over!
They are now set up outside the Raja Rajeshwari Shrine.
Again, many onlookers. At the other end, often people wave, or stop and bow to the camera. Some, like the man in orange dress, are sadhus who live by the road.
Working to set up the right camera angle.
Robin seems very happy. This is his first video shoot in India, and it is quite a scene, beyond anything he has experience shooting before.
Jim at the monitor, with the usual crowd of onlookers.
Now the party is over, it is time to call it (the shoot) a night. This means that all the camera gear needs to be removed from the crane and stowed in the cases.
Then the crane must be disassembled. And each item must be handled properly, and nothing lost. There are no spare parts in Tiruvannamalai (or India).
The crane is like a giant puzzle, and must be assembled and disassembled in just the right sequence.
Finally it must be stowed in the cases. Together the two cases weigh about 100 lbs.
Jim and Robin do not have an assistant yet for the shooting, so they take turns lugging the crane cases and other gear back to their apartment, which is not too far from tonight’s shoot.
Jim and Robin are both pleased with tonight’s work. They found they could even have the crane out in the middle of the road and people (and the few vehicles on the road) would follow usual Indian traffic ‘rules’ and just flow around it.
Note about Robin
One other thing that Robin has done is a YouTube video, a rap video about bicycling called Performance. It is quite popular with more than one million hits. Here is the url: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn29DvMITu4