Wake up and speak to Gopal, he tells me there’s a perahera tonight. I ask him where the kovil is, he gives me directions. I lose myself along the way, but find the path soon enough with the help of a passerby.
I’m back inside the Maha Devalaya again, even at day there is something meditative about it. I walk through to the kovils, take off my slippers and carry them along. The first sound that greets my ears is that of a coconut crack and splash those around it. I look around to see hundreds of pilgrims carrying offerings to the gods and I realize I have none. All I can offer is a creative spark, music, and my lips chanting mantras, “aum naamah shivaya”. I hope this is enough.
I find myself wafting about trying to enter the kovils among all the gift-bearing pilgrims. The line stretches to the entrance. I meander along. Kataragama is the sacred abode of Vishnu, they say. Narayana, as I like to call him, the preserver, is the one that maintains the universe that is Brahma’s creation. There is something eternal about this place, I only wish that I could have an eternal abode such as this.
A little boy with a silver platter walks up to me asking for spare change. He then promptly places a tilaka on my forehead in the shape of a trident. I gave him whatever change I had.
I’m surprised Kataragama has kovils for the incarnations of Kali. She is known as the goddess of death, the one who stands upon the body of Shiva, the destroyer, himself. But her kovil is right next to his.
There’s a mosque and a Buddhist temple closeby. I’ve seen enough of those. I’m seated now inside the Sivan kovil. Aum naamah shivaya, the board reads. Pilgrims come and go, some stop and stare at the floppy haired kid in the Led Zeppelin t-shirt and sarong. Am I a misfit here? Hardly.