pujari’s spiked chair Tamil Nadu India panchakarma

The pujari, a local Hindu temple-priest, was in a deep trance channeling Karupa Rayan, also known as the Black Mighty – protector of the Anaimalais Mountains in the southern western ghats of Tamil Nadu. The energy was intense.

Shortly before, drawn to the event by the intensive sound of drummers from afar, Vijay and I had walked along the elephant trails into the forest. We had been instructed not to leave the premises where we stayed, yet both of us had followed our inner calling and now found ourselves in front of a nature temple carved out in a large rock, decorated with auspicious artifacts and symbols.

The group of drummers kept hitting the drums forcefully and one of the villagers gathered around the temple explained to Vijay it was a special Arul Vakku ceremony that would occasionally happen where a pujari would channel a deity and do trance oracling to help his devotees resolve questions and heal.

The pujari was seated on a spiked chair, watching with piercing eyes as a lady in front of him shouted out in despair. He replied sharply to her, then suddenly rose and moved towards the altar, leaving his spike shoes behind. He performed a few rituals, rang the bells vigorously and blew into a large conch shell. The air filled with strong vibrations, occasionally accompanied by the drummers.

Abruptly, the Pujari turned around from the alter, pointed at Vijay and I, and commanded us to step forward. He was still in a deep trance channeling the Black Mighty deity. Gesticulating and talking in an intense voice, he pointed at Vijay, then I. Slightly at unease by his angry gestures and not understanding a word, I was confused and alert – was he upset by my presence? Vijay told me to be quiet and the priest continued talking to us both.

Abruptly, the priest stopped channeling and with body gestures signaled to me that I should form a cup with my right hand. He poured water smelling of rosewater in it and ordered me to drink. Then we were both offered a lime with a tower of sacred ashes on the top. An old lady approached from behind, and wrapped the ashes it in a piece of newspaper which she handed to me. I received the blessing, a bindi on my third eye and the ceremony was over as sudden as it had started. It has been only 15 minutes, and had we arrived just moments later, we would have missed it all.

We returned through forest, walking back in silence. Why was the Pujari upset, I wanted to know. He wasn’t, Vijay replied. He was intensely channeling and had conveyed messages to both of us from the Black Mighty. I was stunned. Vijai told me the message that was given to me which felt both precise and relevant.

As the sun was setting that evening, I sipped the juice of the blessed lime, while seeing the last sunrays disappear behind the mountains/ghats. I reflected on the powerful ceremony and the mysterious message from the pujari. A reminder that the mystery at the heart of life can speak to you at any time.

spiritual ceremoni Tamil Nadu India -inner wellbeing

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