(This post is dedicated to my maternal granduncle and his wife, Madhavan Ammama and Ammayi. These are the two people who always have been a beacon of light for us. Even my husband loves to just sit in their company and listen to their stories. No matter how sad or upset we are in our lives the moment we meet you guys, we get a new ray of hope, we see things in a different light, we get the confidence of ‘Yes we can!’. We hope to have your blessing always with us)
A couple of weeks back we went to my maternal family temple as it was our first anniversary and we wanted Devi’s blessing. (yes, we completed one year of marriage. Yay to us :).. Anyways, am not some orthodox devout, but there are certain things and certain places that bring that calm and peace of mind, that we often need in the rustle bustle of our lives. One such place is that temple. But its not only the divinity of the temple that helps us in times of distress, but the aura that emanates from the surroundings. Its the only place I know in Ernakulam, where you cant hear the traffic, or any other typical city noise, but instead, chirping birds, crickets, and all other sounds of the nature that would take you a different place. A place where you feel connected to your self. A place where you feel connected to the nature. A place where you get a feeling that “everything is going to be fine” just by being there.
Just to give you a picture of it, this place is my mother’s ancestral home and is around 600 years old. My mothers ancestors used to own the entire neighborhood land, which is like a small island. They were highly religious people and the Devi temple there is believed to be very powerful. People still flock around there just to get her blessings. With a system of joint families that time, there were around 100 odd people staying in that house at a time. Everyday was a Sadhya there, as there would be someone’s birthday or remembrance day. The house was divided the three blocks all these were strewn across a vast area of land. There was the main block where the elders resided and where the kitchen was located. This block still remains, and is shut off, in order to protect it from further weathering. The Second block was a Naalukettu and the third block was a Ettukettu, all traditional Kerala Architecture. My mother’s maternal uncle and aunt still reside in that house, and they always have lots of stories to tell us. He recalls that during his childhood, everyday at 11AM, food was served for all who came at the door steps, all needy strangers were welcome there. Also there was a guesthouse which was open for anyone who was stuck in the locality for the night to stay over, they could use the bedding kept there and use the small pond near the guest house for their needs.
He has kept the tradition alive. He believes the land that he lives on is blessed and the blessing is to be shared with everyone around. Apart from maintaining the temple and its related rituals, he has also built a new guest house for people to stay in. He believes that he needs only 30% of the produces from his land and the rest is for the neighboring families and the fauna.
He believes we are really blessed because for the nobility and kindness of our ancestors. And I second that. I dont boast of having a big aristocratic family (which, apparently they were) but I truly believe the good deeds done by them are the blessing we have even now.
If you come to think of it, it seems true. Whatever goes around comes around.
We, me and my sisters, have a habit of helping people we meet in anyway we can, be it helping an elderly couple in train, or a woman with child in a market, we try to do whatever we can to help them get on with their work easily. The whole idea behind it is something our parents have always taught us, all your good deeds will be rewarded, if not to us then to someone who means a lot to us. And its true, my mother usually travels alone, and although she’s in good health (touch wood!), she always happens to be in a company of very congenial people during her travel, who have helped her in the journey.
I guess in a way we are our own guardian angels. If you are surrounded with people who ooze with positivity and optimism, then life in all of its hardship would not seem so bad after all. Nobody has a perfect life, but with the right attitude nothing can break you down.
I truly believe in what my elders have taught us. They may have nurtured the said values based on their religious beliefs. But religious or not benevolence and humility is virtue everyone should develop.
(more details about the temple can be found on http://puthiyakavu.com/amma/index.html )