Kamakshi Temple in Shiroda
A slender man with long sideburns, trucker's mustache, and wild nearly shoulder length hair sat next to me on a park bench in Margao. His name was Manush Kamat, and I told him I was from America so he talked about our previous 3 presidents and their varying degrees of India friendliness based on outsourcing jobs to India and issuing visas for Indians to come to America.
He knew something about everything. He reads all the newspapers, works in insurance, and refused to get a cell phone. We talked for a while longer, and he told me today was Maha Shivaratri. Translated to English, the Big Night of Shiva. He invited me to come with him to the Kamakshi Temple in Shiroda. It was about a 10 minute bus ride away so I went with him. He gave me a personal tour of the temple grounds and told me the stories behind all the gods. He gave me an inside look I could not have had anyway else.
Photography is not allowed at the Temple, and the sketch above is from inside the primary building which holds the shrine for the Goddess Kamakshi, the wife of Shiva. In front of the shrine is a table and Temple steward who has a small pitcher of water blessed by Shiva. We entered after taking off our shoes and went up to the table. The steward poured a bit of water into our hand for us to drink. Then Manush showed me how I was to put my finger into a bowl of red powder and transfer it to my forehead. He led me farther in where we sat on the ground; it was starting to get crowded. Behind the table was a 10-12 foot hallway with the Goddess Kamakshi at the end. Manush pointed out a TV to either side of the hallway so more people could see the idol. Everything inside the hallway had very bright colors, was shiny, and/or was covered with strings of flowers; only the holy people went inside.
I felt very welcomed, and it a was unique experience I was fortunate to have. Wherever you are now Manush, I would like to thank you again. You were a wonderful host.
Posted by T. Kloucek