From one world to another
My mother was standing next to me on top of the steps at Sri Kumaran stores in Mylapore during the temple festival. As I videotaped the procession of the various gods on their vaahanams(props, if you will) and the gods rolled past us one by one, with a pit stop or two at shades built for the purpose, an elderly uncle asked me a very simple question:
"Ange Americala indha maadhiri edhavadhu unda?"
(In America, do you have anything similar to this?)
His tone was suggesting that I would make him proud by answering in the negative. Being born with a disease called "dontknowwhentoshutuposis" my reply was
"irukku mama. USA-layum indha maadhiri oru utsavam irukku!"
(yes uncle. even in the USA they have something like this!)
My mother saw the mischievous glint in my eyes and took me six feet away from said mama and asked,
Mom : "where in gods name was there a procession like this in the US of A?".
Me : Mousaandavar Kovil-la idhe maadhiri oru oorvalam irukkamma.. (in the mouseaandavar temple there is a procession just like this!)
Mom : Adhu endha Kovil? (what temple is that? I don't remember)
Me : Walt-aalvaar kattina Kovil! (the one that the devotee Walt built for the Mouse)
When I calmly told her that the Disney parade is the american version of the Kapali utsavam, she started laughing.
Had that been said that to my grandma, she would have said "siva sivaa", "enna piththukuli thanam" or something to that effect and hit me on the head with some blunt object. Mom on the other hand actually liked that logic, especially after my other comparisons.
In the utsavam, the vinayagar and nayanamars go first and peps up the crowd, much like the initial clowns and characters that walk in costume at the head of the disney parade.
Then of course come the vendors selling popcorn, cotton candy, little flourescent toys, etc. much like the kaathadi, bangle and pori kadalai sellers who have a three minute time window, to use the artificial sense of emergency to make a quick buck.
This is then followed by the band (naayanam) and the floats with the stars of the parade. Different gods, different props. The priests hand over sacred ash, vermillion and fruits and flowers to the crowd much like the cartoon characters sprinkle glitter around. The disney parade is on motorized floats while the Kapali floats are carried by people and that seems to be the only difference.
People who have a zillion gods and godesses can have the luxury of selecting the parade favorites. If not, you have to go for funny ducks and adorable mice!
Mylapore -> Los Angeles
Vinayagar -> Pluto
Chandikeswarar -> Goofy
Karthikeya -> Donald duck
Kapali and his -> Mickey mouse and his
consort Karpagambal -> consort Minnie Mouse
It is almost one for one! Mickey mouse brings up the grand finale in LA while Kapali's entry back into the temple closes the parade in Mylapore. One has got to wonder if Walt Disney was a mylapore resident at some point.
When you accept the Dinsey Utsavam to be a replica of Kapaliworld, you are truly on your way to bliss!