Monday, 30 July, 2007

Ramayana Parikrama

walking in the footsteps of ramayana
it was a spontaneous decision when sw. turiyamritananda told me he was going for ramayana parikrama [circumambulation of sacred spots associated with ramayana]. i asked, can i come with you?
yes, he said.
we drove 400 odd kilometres to reach pulpally, the hillstation in wynad district.
while driving we saw the devastation the heavy monsoon rains in the last few days had wreaked. all the fields, houses and plantations had been submerged under water.
leaving the plains, we started going up the mountain's winding roads, hairpin curves... the sky was clear with no clouds. the rain had washed away all the dust from the atmosphere. under the blue skies, we could see the plains very clearly from 1,200 feet above sea level.


as we entered wynad, we were welcomed by nature with her fresh cool air. the whole district was as if air-conditioned.
after resting at the pulpally amrita vidyalayam, we set off for the parikrama at 8 am. it was drizzling.

hundreds of people had already gathered at the sita devi temple in pulpally.


sw. turiyamritananda lighted the lamp, and we set off.



all were assembled in two lines: little children, young and old, boys and girls... there were nearly 20 small bhajan groups.


brahmacharis led the procession through the places sita devi was supposed to have lived during her exile..
the parikrama was for 24 kms!


great enthusiasm was seen on everyone's face. more and more people joined in as we proceeded. there were many onlookers coming out of their houses and shops, watching the procession with wonder. they looked on in disbelief seeing the young and the old singing and dancing, chanting the name of the lord.
i imagined this was how chaitanya must have walked through the streets; this must have been how amma sang and walked through the beach. but this was different as the path went through mountains and forested areas.

there was an old lady walking with the help of a stick.



everyone seemed to have forgotten every thing. we passed though tribal colonies, small towns, cultivation fields...


we got water to drink from the houses that also supplied bottled water to the singers.
there was no rain. for the last few days, it had been raining cats and dogs. then the sun was shining but it wasn't hot, not raining but cloudy, not cold but cool.
so even if you walked, you wouldn't sweat.






Some myths.
see the source
According to legend, Sita used pul [grass] taken from here for palli-kolluka [taking rest] during the time she was sent away from Lord Rama's palace. Thus Pulpalli got its name. The primary deity of the Pulpalli temple is Sita Devi; this is quite rare. It is believed that Sage Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, lived southwest of Pulpalli at Ashrama Kolli, and that Sita was staying there during her period of exile. The Sita Devi idol at Pulpalli is known as 'Jadayatta Amma,' or 'The Mother Who Lost Her Matted Lock.'


The story goes that Sita was so aggrieved that Rama had sent her to the forest that she prayed to her mother, Bhumi Devi [Mother Earth]. When she prayed thus, the earth split in half and she entered inside. The only trace of her left behind was one matted lock lying on the ground. It is said that the tears that fell from Sita at that time formed a river—Kannaram Puzha. Furthermore, although Wyanad is famous for its leeches, there are none in Pulpalli. The belief is that this is due to the purity of Sita Devi's tears.

swami turiyamritananda with luv and kush

There are two other idols--of Lava and Kusha, the children of Sita and Rama--in the Pulpalli Temple, known as Murikkanmar. Lava and Kusha were brought up like muni-kumara [ascetic children]. Over the years muni-kumara slowly became "Murikkanmar." It is believed that they learned kalari [Kerala martial arts] at a hillock on the banks of Kannaram Puzha. Today the hill is called Sasi Mala—short for Sishukal Kalicha Sthalam, which means 'The place where the children played.'

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so we walked past sasi mala, had lunch at valmiki ashram and reached jadayatta kav by 5.30 in the evening. there is another valmiki ashram, about 25 kilometres away from this one, for which amma had in 1986 laid the foundation stone. there is now a beautiful temple and ashram there.



that old lady with the stick was there in front. she had walked all the way! incredible! children young and old were still in full form, singing top of their voices. "jay jay ram sita ram..."



no one felt they had walked 24 km. more than 2,000 people participated in the procession. it was amazing!



even though their legs were aching, it didn't affect their enthusiasm.

some people doubt if rama was really a historical figure. whatever they may think, for these devotees, rama and sita continue to live in their hearts.

ramayana parikrama,
pulppally, wynad, kerala -- 22 july 2007.

photos: narayana