I didn't get a good glimpse of Karthigai Deepam this year because it was cloudy and because my mind was very disturbed from the physical conditions on the Girivalam path but I took heart that I was in the Arunachaleswarar Temple, with my family, when Karthigai Deepam was lit. I consoled myself that perhaps Arunachala Siva had other plans for me and He did because my experiences of Karthigai Deepam continued even after we left Tiruvannamalai.
It took us more than six hours to finish our Girivalam at Easanya Lingam. By then it was well past midnight and we had to rush back to Chennai because I had to board the train to Bangalore at 7.30 a.m. or atleast, so I thought. After dropping our friends at their respective homes, my wife and I reached home only around 4.30 a.m. I must have slept for only an hour when it was time to leave for the railway station. In the bus to the station, I looked at my train ticket. To my surprise, I found that I had purchased the ticket for the train leaving at 3.40 p.m that day. Relieved, I returned home and went back to sleep. My wife, however, had to go to school as usual. She is a teacher. I worried about her because she has just recovered from a bout of illness.
All the hills were glowing
As I was travelling by the evening train to Bangalore, I pondered over the grace of God who allowed me to get more rest after our trip to Tiruvannamalai. On the train too, I got to sleep. When I woke up, dusk was slowly setting in. The landscape was full of little hills all the way. Some of them really reminded me of Tiruvannamalai hills. A few of them in fact appeared to be glowing with some light on top of them. The route was dotted with a number of tiny villages and a few small towns. I found that almost all of these villages homes were decorated with clusters of little lamps. The front yard, the entrance, the windows and all perches in the small houses were decked with little oil lamps. It was a beautiful sight to witness.
In a previous post - http://arunachala-girivalam.blogspot.com/2009/10/karthigai-deepam-beaconing-light.html - I had mentioned how we used to celebrate karthigai deepam in our villages. All the houses used to be lit with oil lamps made of clay pots and we, the country bumpkins, went about carrying long bundles of hay, ignited at one end. Even now after becoming city-dwellers, we continue with our tradition of decorating our houses with the lamps during the Karthigai Deepam festival. The sight of these tiny houses in the village enroute gave me immense joy for I was convinced that the people have not given up their tradition, despite the pressures of life. My introspection of Karthigai Deepam was continuing. I prayed to Arunachala that people who are economically better off be made do more to keep these lights burning in the villages. I prayed that He continue to keep these simple village folk forever under His protective fold.