Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wandering Through The Streets of Rameshwaram: A Photo Essay.

Magic of my Rameshwaram yatra, this most fascinating and significant of pilgrimages, only began with paying obeisance in the age old Ramanathaswamy temple and the multitude of teerthams, following an alternate route through the streets of this charming island revealed an experience completely different. Getting acquainted with the wonders of the village by simply being on the streets divulged artistry, humanity and a characteristic laid-backness interwoven in a thread of traditions and customs unique in character and culture; here it was, where I wandered, stopping and marvelling at the never ending slice of life on display waiting to be celebrated and appreciated for they were as captivating, as rewarding and as gratifying as any visit to a renowned temple of a sacred place.

Photographed below are some of the sights, smells, and sounds that caught my eye, my experiences while wandering through the narrow lanes and bylanes of this quaint quiet sleepy village, in a humble attempt to get a feel - a taste of the real village of Rameshwaram.

Besides The Rameshwaram Temple: Getting acquainted with the real village of Rameshwaram.

Houses - of bricks and mortar, mud, paint, bamboo or chuna,

... Are not just structures
But, real extensions of the people living inside.

Houses in the village of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Old and rustic,

 Some of them are cemented,
more rich and well to do
while others are less ostentatious with just a thatched roof.

An ancient house in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Some of them have a bike parked in front of their gates
while others are content with a bicycle.

A bike parked in front of a house in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

What's really striking about these homes, I wonder?

Should I highlight their usage of colors or should I speak of their old age charm,
should I focus on their architecture or
should I write of the the social affluence that they boast off?

Houses in the village of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

What would be their best celebration after all?

Meanwhile, away from the houses, down in the markets, the town is abuzz with activity, long woken up from slumber. Day starts early in the town especially owing to its pilgrimage status. The life of the people here revolves around the sea, the temple and the Gods.

Boats, unanchored and liberated, are out into the sea for a fishing spree. 

Fisherman boats in Rameshwaram

Business is not always brisk and money is scarce but what needs to be done is always done. Day after day, men get up and go out to earn the daily bread and feed their families - parents, wives and children.

A lifetime of hard work and toil... it's reflected as lined features,
wrinkled hands and in the veins that protrude from their feeble arms.

A man resting on the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
A man sells his wares in the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Near the bus stop, an old man sits on the ground quietly, seemingly unaffected by the action around, wrapped in a saffron robe on a jacket, moving nothing but the fingers of his left hand through the japa - mala or precious prayer beads chanting his prayers.

He's got a call to move on...

A sadhu on the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Competition is real even in the rural, and a fight for survival exists but out in the center, the sense of community is palpable. There is an expression of camaraderie and kinship even in the animals even when there are no words spoken. I offer a couple of bananas to the cow lounging on the roadside. The Mother cow compassionately gazes at the pup strolling alongside as if passing her plate to him but alas! He finds himself too young for the treat.

A cow mooing lazing in the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu


It's eloquent, powerful, beautiful, even dangerous.

To slow down, reflect and ponder
on how connected you are with life,
your own self, is priority here.

A dogs on the beach of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

An old letterbox dangles modestly in a corner, reminding me of the power of written words, the joys of authentic connections and meaningful heartfelt conversations. Of great desires and classical stories of enduring love - they all find a place in the safe womb of the post box.

A letter box for communication along the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

The town is in the mood of Diwali, the festival of lights and there is an unmissable happiness in the air. The entire streets are hemmed in on all sides by Thoranams against the cloudless blue backdrop of the sky - oh how gracefully they swing and sway, to and fro! Dancing to the ecstatic beats of the winds, they permeate joy into my entire being.

How can I forget those moments...
those are moments of freedom and peace.

Auspicious Thoranams haniging on the streets of Rameshwaram during Diwali

Peace and freedom

Those esteemed gifts received when I look upto and in the benevolent eyes of my Father ... I ... His beloved daughter, flawlessly beautiful and faultless, in His eyes, a part of His Family.

Colorful temple facade in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Gods are not exclusive to the temples in Rameshwaram. He resides in their houses, on the doors, in signs and symbols, in faith and in their day to day activities. He is Family, a living member of their everyday life.

Burst of colors aong the streets of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

As I keep walking through the village of Rameshwaram, the myriad of scenes, they make way for the houses again. This time, the humble rangoli drawn in the courtyard catches my attention and I suddenly realise what is their real celebration after all - it is in the warmth of those intricate patterns... white or coloured... made lovingly by the womenfolk of the house, early in the morning after sweeping the courtyard that so warmly invites us all.

Rangoli designs in front of houses in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Yes, the doors of the houses in Rameshwaram are open for everyone.
Everyone, except the evil eyed one - 

Warding off evil in the house of  Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

Nazarbattus hanging out in the door
They do a good job of scaring all the wicked off!

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