For generations to come, this would define marriages!
The Lord, her King, the Supreme, came on the mighty royal elephant, looking resplendent in silks and pearls. His skin gleamed the colour of sandalwood in the sun, and that of the blueberry in the shades. The iridescent sheen touched everything around Him.
People danced on the streets in bliss.
The pooranakumbam awaited Him, priests blessing the golden kalasam on which the coconut was placed amidst mango leaves. The palanquins on top of the elephants hit the brightly coloured festive decorations that were hung from the balconies of the houses on the streets.
The temple doors were kept wide open.
The Devas, along with their head Indra, seemed to have descended to the Earth to watch. Behind His regal stature, they seemed like silver beside gold. Their faces showed radiance, excited to see their Lord marrying Her. They had all talked and decided, setting terms and conditions as she watched.
The marriage date was set.
The priests came forth, sprinkling the Holy Water on everyone, blessing the bride and groom. Arangan looked charmingly at Her, his crown decorated with flowers.
Even from afar, His face glowed like a thousand suns.
The welcoming committee was of beautiful women, who held golden lanterns, ushering in the Groom, the Lord of Madurai, who walked with his steps echoing powerfully on the cobblestone streets. The sunlight reflected around Him, for His radiance was mightier.
His walk was like that of a lion, steady, prideful.
The boisterous maththalams complemented the sound of the conch, which resonated deep inside Her, calling to Her soul. The marriage pandal was decorated with the most vibrant flowers, and exotic vines that gave away heady fragrances.
He held Her hand, smiling down at Her as their fingers clasped together.
The mantras from the scholars sounded in unison, rising to a crescendo. The holy samiththu sent a woody smoke up to the sky, the flames dancing merrily as He held Her hand, gently going around the fire, signifying their union before the elements of nature.
She felt as if She were coming closer to Him.
His sure fingers held Her toes as He gently guided Her to the ammi stone, that stood waiting. The seven steps She walked sent Her reeling beyond eons, each scene that flashed in front of Her eyes showing Her the reality of her past and future lives.
And in it all, He stood with Her, holding Her close.
He brought Her back to the fire once again, where Her brothers waited with the puffed rice they would offer to the fire, according their blessings to the Holiest of Holy Matrimonies. They pressed Her hand with His, signifying their union, as Her heart fluttered in happiness.
Vishnu Cittar watched, his eyes wet and lips parted in a smile.
To douse the heat of the fire, women applied the paste of the finest sandalwood on Her. Preparing Herself, Kodhai walked out of the wedding pandal. Alongside her Madhusoodhanan, She climbed over the elephants, as they roamed the streets.
The crowd went beyond itself in joy.
It was then that Kodhai knew, that the purpose of Her life had been to lead them all to Him, to show them all that perseverance for the right cause would gain results, and that Sriman Narayanan was the only one who mattered.
வங்கக் கடல் கடைந்த மாதவனைக் கேசவனை
திங்கள் திருமுகத்துச் சேயிழையார் சென்று இறைஞ்சி
அங்கு அப்பறை கொண்ட ஆற்றை அணிபுதுவைப்
பைங்கமலத் தண்தெரியல் பட்டர் பிரான் கோதை சொன்ன
சங்கத் தமிழ் மாலை முப்பதும் தப்பாமே
இங்கு இப்பரிசு உறைப்பார் ஈரிரண்டு மால் வரைத் தோள்
செங்கன் திருமுகத்துச் செல்வத் திருமாலால்
எங்கும் திருவருள் பெற்று இன்புறுவர் எம்பாவாய்.
And with that, I come to the end of the Margazhi Magic Series.
For those of you who have not made the connection, the scene depicted here is just an expansion of the 11 verses of Vaaranam Aayiram, also written by Kodhai Naachiyaar, and my attempt at piecing together the wedding dream and the reality of attaining the Lord.
This would not have been possible without His blessings,
Sriman Nārāyana charaṇau saranam prapadyē!
And it was Her guidance the directed my hands and mind towards this,
Aandaal Emperumaanaar Thiruvadigale Saranam!
Everything I think, do, and decide is submitted to the One.
कायेन वाचा मनसेन्द्रियैर्वा बुद्ध्यात्मना वा प्रकृतेः स्वभावात् /
करोमि यद्यत् सकलं परस्मै नारायणायेति समर्पयामि //
(Kaayena vacha manasendriyairva buddhyatmana va prakrite swabhavath |
Karoomi yadyad sakalam parasmai Narayanayeti samarpayami ||)
(Whatever I do with my mind, body, speech or with other senses of my body,
Or with my intellect or with my innate natural tendencies,
I offer everything to Narayana)
And now for some personal thanks.
Thanks to my grandmother who instilled in me a love or Kodhai and Aandal.
She is the reason why I began loving the verses as something above and beyond what they were. I would always remember her with gratitude for instilling the love of all things traditional and modern in me.
Thank you, Janani Srikanth. This would not have begun or ended without you.
Special thanks would always go to you for the words of encouragement, in-depth analysis, and timely critique. Loved sharing the magic with you. This series came alive with our conversations, and shall forever remind me of the importance of cultures and values that keep us in their folds with love.