we went back the next day for the main procession, of lord shiva and the 63 saints. the streets were not as crazily packed as they were the day before, but the area in front of the temple, which had been enclosed for the occasion, was fully jammed with worshippers. oddly, the event wasn’t as grand as the celebration of the day before, but i think it had more religious significance.
today, my friend and fellow tirupati traveler james and i went to kapaleeswarar temple to see the arubathimoovar festival. arubathimoovar celebrates 63 saints who were canonized for their devotion to lord shiva, and the highlight of the festival is the parade of temple chariots, each of which carries a statue of a saint through the streets.
one of the first things we encountered was a group of beggars who roll themselves through the streets, chanting, blocking traffic, and begging for alms. as the middle shot shows (and i’m only including it as evidence, not because it’s a particularly good shot), they aren’t in such bad shape for rolling themselves four or five blocks in the procession with the chariots; i have to believe this isn’t their first rodeo, so to speak. the chariots themselves are pulled along by devotees while priests distribute holy ashes and other blessings …
… that is, until the chariot carrying shiva pulls into view. this was a much more serious affair, about two stories tall, with more than a hundred guys pushing and pulling it and thousands thronged around it.
|the ropes used to pull the chariot, and the crowds pushing, pulling, or following it, were massive.|