Back from Chennai after a quick weekend trip to attend the Upanayanam Ceremony of Dhruv, Ajay’s (one of our colleagues) son. The trip was marked by long bus rides, the humid Chennai heat and a very interesting and a very touching ceremony that marked the beginnings of adulthood for Dhruv. Things started on Satruday morning with a whole bunch of us piling into a minibus and heading out for a road trip! The minibus was most comfortable (air-conditioned and all) but even that failed to put a dent in the heat that we experienced in the latter half of the journey as we made our way off the Deccan Plateau and wound our way into coastal Tamil Nadu.
The reality of the Indian summer hit me like a hot, humid Chennai evening (actually it was a hot, humid Chennai evening) though it did feel very much like a hot, humid Singapore evening, the type that happens in July and August. The weary travellers were treated to a quick dinner and drink by one of the rivers of Chennai before everyone stumbled to bed, knowing that we’d have to rise early for the next morning’s programme.
Our efforts at rising early and getting ready were thwarted the next morning by a tardy taxi driver and his lack of knowledge of the Chennai roads. After winding round and round the streets of T. Nagar for close to an hour, we arrived slightly worse for wear at the Geetam Mahal where the ceremony was to take place. Upanayanam is sometimes known as a thread ceremony and its where a young boy receives the sacred thread that represents his entry into adulthood and shows that he’s ready to receive education. The child is taught mantras to be chanted and is given threads of cotton and silver that symbolise virtues that are accorded to deities that would guide the child in his education.
Though the hall was fairly crowded, the ceremony still felt quite intimate and what was really nice about it all was the familial feel to the whole thing. Though there were a number of pandits (priest/scholars) who were at hand to help with the ceremony, it was the parents of Dhruv who were the ones who were the ones to actually teach him the mantras and put the threads onto him. It was indeed an honour to have been able to come all the way to Chennai to witness an important milestone in the family.
Am feeling to be less of an oddity now that I’ve been here for a while and don’t quite feel the eyes on me being the different one so much anymore. Though I do still stick out like a sore thumb in most cases, somehow the comfort of being here for a while and the general warmth of the people that I’ve been meeting has been quite something. Now all I need to do is to get the language thing down and I should be all right.