I learnt from the internet and few ethnographers whom I knew few years back that ethnography projects take years and the ethnographers almost dedicate their lives for the project.This project was a month’s project which simply got extended due to various projects I was stuck at the same time.I did travel and took interviews much to my satisfaction but couldn’t document it until now.Better late than never, following is the trail of my journey during this project.I will be documenting two journeys which I undertook during the project.
- Journey I – Dec 6 to Dec 13, 2011
- Journey II – August 29-September 2, 2012
- 6 Dec 2011 – reaching chennai from Mumbai
- 6 Dec 2011 – Arranging travel and accomodation for myself in Madurai
- 7 Dec 2011 – Set off to Madurai in state transport bus
- 8 Dec 2011 , Morning – Reaching Madurai and meeting Abdullah Uncle
- 8 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Aiyannar temple hunting on the NH38 highway
- 8 Dec 2011, Evening – Stop at one of my relatives place who lives in Tuticorin
- 9 Dec 2011, Morning – Thiruchendur Murugan temple
- 9 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Return journey back to Madurai
- 9 Dec 2011, Evening – Visiting one last temple which we missed in the beginning and made arrangements for an a puja(or archana) next day
- 9 Dec, 2011, Night – Stay at a cheap restaurant in Madurai
- 10 Dec 2011, Morning – Visiting the Aiyannar temple and interviewing the priests and observing the proceedings
- 10 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Vacated the lodge where I stayed last night and headed towards Madurai Meenatchi temple which I came to know that it was closed due to Solar eclipse on that day
- 10 Dec 2011, An eureka moment while clicking the photograph of the gopuram of Madurai meenatchi temple from outside.The eureka moment was about the idea of documenting the change in the attire of the guardian gods because I faintly remember seeing the Aiyannars depicted in army dress somewhere in the ECR road but don’t remember exactly where.
- 10 Dec 2011, Evening – Headed towards my native place, Alakkudi a village near Chidambaram. My co-traveller, Siddiqui, in the bus was a forest officer with whom I became very thick friends on the way.He even called me almost a year later asking about my endeavours. He gives me leads which would be the target destinations in the future journeys.He even tells me about a temple near Kanyakumari which is dedicated for a british officer.
- 10 Dec 2011, Midnight – Reach Atchalapuram a stop before my village where my aunt lives.
- 11 Dec 2011, Morning – Had a long conversation with my Aunt about my own Kula deivam, Periyandavar who is also one of the 21 Aiyannars.
- 11 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Leave for my village Alakkudi to meet my Tauji and Chacha’s family.Had a long discussion about my experiences and discussed about the eureka moment I had at Madurai Meenatchi temple with my chacha and to my awe I discovered that there are many Aiyannar temples which can give me more eureka moments.The journey had a new purpose to visit atleast one temple which had guardian gods depicted in police uniform.
- 11 Dec 2011, Evening – Showing computer games to kids in the neighbourhood and made some observations.
- 12 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Visiting the temple near Chidambaram where I found the temple surrounded with guardian gods with police uniforms.Also found paper chits tied to the legs of the statue of the white horse.Heard a very interesting story about the chits tied to the legs of the White Horse statue from a tea shop owner.Heard stories about the commotion that has stuck the devotees of Aiyappan due to the growing tension between Tamil Nadu and Kerala regarding the Periyar Dam.
- 12 Dec 2011, Evening – Visiting the place which is said to have the place of worship of Periyandavar, our lineage god.Fear and insecurity taking over and making me switch of the camera after clicking two pictures.
- 12 Dec 2011 , Late evening – Back to my Chacha’s place at Alakkudi. Showed the pics clicked at various places. Found the SD card missing after a while and searched the entire house for the SD card but in vain.
- 13 Dec 2011, Morning – While getting ready to go back to Chennai I found the missing SD card inside my camera pouch.It looked like a miracle because I saw inside the camera pouch yesterday night when the SD card was found missing but it was there now.My Chachi says it was Aiyannar god himself who returned the SD card back to me.
- 13 Dec 2011, Midnight – Reached Chennai.
- 14 Dec 2011 – 17 Dec 2011 – Read the book “Art of Game Design” because I was supposed to finish a report for extended P2 project
- 18 Dec 2011 – Start for Mumbai in Mumbai Mail
- 19 Dec 2011 – Reach Mumbai and got myself busy with the P2 project presentation till 5 Jan
Journey II was the serendipity that was still continuing after my serendipitous journey to Arunachal Pradesh which was an extension to my game design project for P3. My friend-turned-brother Saravanan who wanted to start a company has already registered the train tickets to Coimbatore.We signed the legal papers related to the company and amongst these three events which within three days.
- 29 August 2012 – I turned 29 and also Saravanan’s uncle’s marriage function
- 30 August 2012 – Legal papers for the company got ready
- 31 August 2012 – Saravanan turns 25 and we signed the legal papers regarding the company. I was all set to explore the Bhadrakali amman temple the next day.Siddiqui calls me at around 9 PM and asks about the project and me.Had a long chat about the Aiyannar temples in Pudukottai and promised that I will be visiting pudukottai soon.
- 1 September 2012 – Visiting the Bhadrakali temple near Coimbatore hoping to find few Aiyannars as well.Found some other stories of different guardian god namely Bakasur but not Aiyannar. Found a sharp connect with the story of the british officer’s temple in Pulliyoor as told by Siddiqui with the Bakasur’s story.
- 2 September 2012 – Leave for Mumbai without visiting my native place much to the disgust of my family members.I promised them that I will return in December or in January atleast because I had a lot of projects to be completed some of them were commercial ones which I was doing for my living.
Read further in the project at this link