Pālki at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān

photos of Ramnath and Kamakshi in Palki at Ramnathi Devasthan by Arun Shanbhag
Hindus believe that all things animate and in-animate (manifest or unmanifest) are part of the universal divine consciousness. We generally refer to this divine consciousness as “That”, because any attribute you give it is limiting (see Sant Tulsidas’ beautiful verse describing “That” divine consciousness; also this post on Dwija). In common parlance, we refer to “That” as Paramātmā or eternal soul (1). It thus follows that all humans are part of this eternal soul or Paramātmā. The corollary then is that Paramātmā too includes human qualities, strengths and frailties, and expresses human emotions. Purān and itihās (history) are filled with their anthropomorphed lore. In our temples, we adore our divine just like we would our valued guests. In the common Hindu puja, we pamper our divine guest with 16 services (shodasho upchār) like if she was a valued friend, like cleaning her feet, helping her brush, bathe, providing new clothes, jewelry, sumptuous feasts, etc.

Completing this anthropomorphization our temple bound deities like to go out on the town and have fun. Wouldn’t you if you were couped up in a tiny garbha-griha? Thus in many communities, devotees take their temple deities out for a ride in a specially designed pālki (palanquin) (2).

Every Monday evening at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān, Rāmnāth Dev sits in a pālki and is carried around the grounds. It’s a festive occasion with a small band playing and devotees chanting bhajans. Following tradition, the pālki has designated stops where aarti is performed and verses of the Mangalāshtak are chanted. Pālki is followed by a sumptuous prasād (yaay).

On special occasions, Rāmnāth Dev is accompanied by Kāmākshi Devi on his jaunt around the temple grounds. These pictures are from the recent Mahā Shivrātri when Rāmnāth and Kāmākshi went around the temple in their respective pālki (3) . While Rāmnāth sits in his simple pālki, Kāmākshi, verily the Goddess of Desire and Sensuality, tours in style, high on an elephant pālki. How cool is she?


Notes:
1. The word God doesn’t exist in Hindu vocabulary and is a Western construct.
2. In Mumbai you commonly see Muslims take their sacred deity out on the town; recently in Kumta, I noticed the local christians in a procession with their deity in a pālki.
3. Plural of pālki remains pālki and not the anglicized pālkis.

Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi

Photos of the Soda store owner at the Neeta Canteen by the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

During Maha Shivratri, as I waited for a rickshaw outside the Ramnathi Devasthan, I shot pics of colorful soda bottles arrayed in crates. The hovering owner felt neglected and offers, “Maegel bhī photo kād” (take a pic of me too). I obliged. I loved the confident pose he struck in front of the red wall. You can imagine him in a previous avatār, curling his handlebar mustache and astride a horse. Quintessential Goa. For that, he gets the opening pic. Continue reading “Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi”

MahāShivrātri at Rāmnāthi

Photos of MahaShivaratri Festival at Ramnathi Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Ramnath Dev being taken out on a Phalki

|| Om Namah Shivay ||
Wishing you all an auspicious Maha Shivratri


More on the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa:


Enjoy these pictures from the Maha Shivratri Utsav at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa

Bookseller in Goa

shyamsundar desai bookseller mardol goa Arun Shanbhag
With M & m in Mumbai, I stay at work longer, workout harder and run further. With friends, I laze around more; that means less blogging. But I want to share this beautiful pic of a bookseller I met in Goa.

We were on our way back to the Ramnathi Devasthan after visiting some Konkani temples. On the rural stretch, the driver pulled over to a roadside bookstall for a newspaper. I followed, wondering if here in the heart of Konkani Goa, I could find some of our Hindu scriptures. For long I wanted a “loose-leaf” version of the Devi Mahatmyam – the popular scripture detailing the genesis of the mother goddess, Devi. The kind used by priests for parayaN (chanting) in temples.

Here, a priest at the Ramnathi Devasthan recites the Devi Mahatmyam from a loose-leaf manuscript. Continue reading “Bookseller in Goa”

Chai Time Two

photo of Chai Time at Ramnath Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

After Dhool Bhaet at the Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan, I walked around heavenly rice fields and stopped by the canteen outside the temple for a cup of Chai. Next to me, this gentleman savored his morning cup. He poured it in the saucer, lifted the saucer to his lips and slurped. Continue reading “Chai Time Two”

Goa: Visiting Ramnathi

Pictures of Rice fields at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa by Arun Shanbhag
After celebrating Meera’s birthday, I make a quick, day trip to visit our Kuladevata (family temple) at the Ramnathi Devasthan in Goa.
The early morning flight brought me to Ramnathi at the crack of dawn. The temple was open and I paid my respects to Ramnath as “Dhool bhaet”.

From my earlier post on the Ramnathi Devasthan

It is the tradition at Ramnathi and other Konkani temples, for kulavis to visit the deity as soon as we arrive – even before we wash our feet. We leave our footwear at the door and with dusty feet rush inside to pay homage to our father protector, guardian and closest confidant. Akin to the return of a prodigal son (or daughter); our father wants to see us ASAP, even before we wash our feet. This first visit is thus called “dhool bhaet” (dusty meeting). Only after we have visited the temple, do we visit the office, rent a room, freshen up and come back into the temple for a proper service.

This early, the office was still closed. So camera in hand, I walked across the road to a series of rice fields (see picture above). The early morning light bathed them in an ethereal glow. I felt my burdens lifted: This is the life! I could spend the rest of our days here, and Meera and M would love it here Continue reading “Goa: Visiting Ramnathi”

Chai Time

Pics of two guys drinking chai at Kamakshi Canteen Ramnathi Temple Goa Arun Shanbhag

After performing the Lagu Rudra abhishek, an honor accorded the Kulaviis at the Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan, I sneak away to the canteen beside the front entrance. They make the best missal and ussal paav. As I gorge myself, I notice these two guys on a chai break. Both were caught up in their own thoughts and did not utter a single word to each other. Prolly none were needed. Their mere presence supported each other. Continue reading “Chai Time”

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