Arunachala Full Moon Girivalam – Street Drawing


Every full moon night there is a well-done chalk street drawing, often of Hanuman. It is usually in a different location each time. In the recent full moon night – Pournami – on 16 May 2011, I was fortunate to see the drawing being made by the artist. This post shows some of this street drawing.

On the morning of 16 May, about 8:15, I was walking back from my usual morning walk in the Arunachala forests. I saw across the road, near where Girivalam road comes off of Bangalore Road, the artist at work.


He is kneeling down, working with chalk.


While he works motorbikes (and cars, busses, rickshaws, etc.) whiz by. This being India, the drivers just naturally drive around any obstruction in the road.


He has gotten most of the drawing done already.


He stopped and posed for a photo. I gave him a few rupees. He wanted the see the photo after I took it. This is usual, it seems, here.


It is a drawing of Hanuman, with a figure in his chest, which he is pulling open.


The next morning as I walked by about 6 AM, I could see the completed drawing.


It is SriRam. Hanuman showing his devotion that he always keeping rama in his inner heart! He is looking out through the bloody open chest. The white dots are rupee coins that have been tossed onto the drawing. This is his ‘take’ for the art work that was done.


People walking Pradakshina (Girivalam in Tamil) walk right by the drawing. Some look, some seem to pay it no attention.


Near the drawing are a number of fortune tellers. They have been here all night, and are pretty tired by now. Nobody is stopping to get their fortunes told.

A tender coconut vendor is almost sold out, with a big pile of empty coconuts piled behind his stand. These shells will be collected over the next day or so and dried out to be used as fuel for cook fires.


As I get ready to go into the forest, I see three men, laying on a plastic cloth, trying to get a bit of sleep after their long night selling drinks.

I take a short walk today, and come out of the forest about 7:15. The sun is just rising over Arunachala.


When I get back to the drawing, it is gone, washed away, destroyed by the artist.


The money has been collected, and the artwork demolished. The artist has gone home to bed to get some sleep.


There will be another drawing done for the next full moon. This man makes these each time. They are beautifully done, but ephemeral, existing only for about one day, like the May Fly in the Northern USA, which hatches, lives and loves and reproduces, laying eggs for the next generation, whose entire span of life is just one day in May.



2 Responses to “Arunachala Full Moon Girivalam – Street Drawing”

  1. Vidya Nagarajan Says:

    Richard, your blog and photos of Arunachala are very interesting. Can i have your email id please. Need to check something with you please. thanks.

  2. mnaren Says:

    It’s a pleasure to read each one of your blog posts, covering different aspects of life and practice in Arunachala!

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