Vaikunta Ekadasi , the greatest festival of the Ranganatharswamy Temple year, is about to begin in this Hindu temple, so today, police and people were swarming, traffic was redirected, and the hawkers were having a great time. Devotees – men, women, ancient and fairly young – were brilliant , the whole place just glorious chaos.
The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls, and according to Lonely Planet it has 21 gopurams (those pink and blue towers), 39 pavillions, 50 shrines, including the Hall of 1000 Pillars (though I read somewhere that the number is actually 994). As a non-Hindu, I could get up to the 2nd outer courtyard, but as always, not inside the gold-topped sanctum sanctorum.
See these chappals (photo, below)? I set mine there (black Crocs, left of the pink ones), paid the ancient woman the 10 rupees she required, then walked barefoot across the road to enter the temple. There, I saw a stall offering chappals storage. FREE. I know it was just 14 cents, & I know it was perfect weather – high 80’s(Minnesota people notice this sort of thing) – but it probably took a good 5 minutes for me to let go of the injustice. It was probably a good 5 minutes before I saw the malnourished, hunched-over woman, probably my age, leaning against the temple wall and holding out sticks of sandalwood incense for people like me to buy. REALLY, Mary Ellen?
Good day. Feeling very ready, now, for the ashram.