With The Divine Grace of Arunachaleswara, ten of our volunteers who are working in Canara Bank had the opportunity of serving at Thiruvannamalai Temple in connection with the Chitra Pournami festival on 25.04.2013.
It was in the year 2006, a group of Canara Bank employees who had just a few months earlier started doing uzhavarappani in a small way, sat together to discuss ways and methods to strengthen their initiative. They decide to open a common account and make monthly contributions from their salary to facilitate uzhavarappani activities. The name of the account was deliberated upon at length and no satisfactory suggestion emerged. At this point, one of our volunteers Shri Atma Ram suggested: " Today is Chitra Pournami Day. Let us call ourselves as ANNAMALAIYAR ARAPPANI KUZHU ". This suggestion was immediatly accepted by everyone present. Thus Annamalaiyar Arappani Kuzhu came into existence 7 years ago.
Chitra Pournami attracts about 15 to 20 lakh devotees to Holy town of Thiruvannamalai, next only to the Karthigai Maha Deepam festival in numbers. The temple authorities had estimated a sale of atleast one lakh special darshan tickets on this day. Canara Bank - Thiruvannamalai, which is the main banker for the temple accounts, had gladly accepted the task of handling the sale of these tickets. As our group has a sizeable presence in Canara Bank and widely known, we were entrusted with handling the sale of tickets.
Assembling at Koyambedu bus stand, we left on the morning of 24th April itself to avoid the usual rush during the Pournami festivals. Our group included two lady employees as well. During our bus journey, Shri Ramachandran, our coordinator, recalled the above incident of 2006 that clinched the name of our group.
We reached Thiruvannamalai by noon. The Chief Manager of our Thiruvannamalai branch had been kind enough to arrange for our stay and food within the temple complex, another rare opportunity in itself. We were provided two rooms at the temple guest house and one of them we allotted to the ladies in our team.
After having a Darshan inside the temple, we started handling the ticket sales around 5.00pm, which continued till 10.00pm. There was not much of a crowd on that day.
On April 25th, we all got up by 3.30 am itself and were ready by 4.30am to handle the counters. Even at that early hour, there was a steady inflow of pilgrims. As the day progressed, the number of devotees too increased. Even to take a special darshan ticket, the pilgrims had to wait in the serpentine queue at least for two hours
We were handling the counters till 5.30pm in the evening, when we were relieved by the officials of Tiruvannamalai branch. This gave us the opportunity to do a Girivalam on this holy day. Some of us stayed in the temple premises that night and had a once in a life-time opportunity of doing mantra japa during the lunar eclipse at Thiruvannamalai.
|A panoramic view of the Gopurams and the Holy Hill from our place of stay|
எதுவும் எங்கள் செயலல்ல. அனைத்தும் உன் திருவருளே ! அருளாளா !! அருணாச்சலா !!!