The Tamil country.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Ethnic groups from across India have made the Capital their home. There is a mini Kerala in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar and a mini Kashmir in central Delhi’s Bhogal. Tamils have their address in south Delhi’s Rama Krishna Puram, or RK Puram. The last stop of Delhi’s Tamil community, Sree Uttara Swami Malai Mandir is situated on a hillock (malai means ‘mountain’ in Tamil). North India ends at the entrance gate. No, at the shoe rack, which keeps Tamil newspapers.
The courtyard hums with the sound of spoken Tamil. Men sport white veshtis; women have fragrant gajras woven into their hair. Here you witness the joys of traditional family life. Mothers run after little children, newly married couples take each other’s photographs and old people eat the holy prasad.
The wedding scene of Shiva is painted on the backdrop of the stage in the courtyard, used for cultural events. Shiva’s son Karthik is the temple’s main deity. The shrine at the foot of the hill is dedicated to Shiva, though there are other gods beside the silver-plated lingam. The black statue of Goddess Meenakshi Devi is always dressed in bright Kanjeevaram sarees.
Midway up the hill is the Adi Shankaracharya hall, the venue for assemblies. Near the top is a little shrine dedicated to the snake god and milk is offered on its hood.
The main temple on the hilltop was built in 1973 from blue granite. Showing south Indian influences from the Chola era, the walls are sculpted with the images of gods. Unfortunately, climbing this high doesn’t offer any majestic scenery. The view of the residential neighbourhoods of RK Puram and Vasant Vihar is disappointing. However, the hill’s slope is taken over by pink bougainvillea bushes that make for a lovely sight.
God be with us (these photographs were taken in the cold season)