My mother’s family started and has sponsored the annual celebration of the Hindu festival Thai Poosam in the temple at Vadapalani since the late 1930s. It’s a great thing which I witnessed once – the hustle and bustle of religious activity over days, walking everywhere on the temple grounds and my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins taking turns pulling the massive golden chariot on which sits an idol of the younger son of Siva. Just this morning, my mother recalled to me how she has visited that temple as long as she can remember. Her father, my grandfather or Thaatha, insisted that all of his daughters wear their newest pattu pavadai (silk frock) to temple on this day and would not look at the freshly-bathed and decorated lord until his brood of eight was accounted for. Yes, this was my grandfather who almost smacked two-year-old me on the head with his cane to keep me from cutting off the family German Shepherd’s tail with my newly-acquired skill of Hey I Know How To Use Scissors I Have The Power! Looking back on the, ahem, adventures of his children and grandchildren, I’m surprised all of our skulls are not dented and in multiple places.
Thoughts of Thai Poosam and Vadapalani mean memories of my Thaatha. He never once left South India but would dig what my “foreign” brother and I have become the most. And, you know my opinions on god, superstition and the afterlife, but I can’t help but feel that he is looking out for us now.