Parthasarathy Swami temple (1)

Temple drums boom deeply
Announcing His arrival
Devotees waiting in the corridor
Stop their chatting mid-sentence
Ready for His Darshan
Palms pressed in reverence

I, speck in the crowd
Camera slung across my shoulder
Wait too, my worship to offer
To my Lord Parthasarathy

man holding a DSLR camera

He appears
His exalted, resplendent Frame
Filling the ancient temple doorway —
An enchanting Vision
In vibrant green-blue-gold silk robe
Rubies and diamonds
Embellishing His broad Chest

With the nadaswarams scaling
Melodious Mallari notes
And the hefty thavil accompanying with the beat
He crosses the threshold majestically
To float into the throng

Jasmine and sampangi garlands
He wears around His Shoulders
Tease my nostrils with their heady fragrance
Intoxicated, my heart flutters, my skin quivers
My focus intensifies

I step forward, camera in hand
Place my eye in the viewfinder
Compose the frame
The crowd jostles me but I am undisturbed
My feet planted firmly, my hands steady
My intention determined, I set the exposure triangle

My eye meets His
As a yogi would their Ajna chakra


Darshan: an opportunity to behold the image of a deity

Lord Parthasarathy: The reigning Deity of the Parthasarathy Swami temple, a 6th-century Vaishnavite temple located at Thiruvallikeni, Chennai, India

nadaswaram, thavil: The nadaswaram is a double-reed wind instrument. The thavil is a barrel-shaped percussion instrument. Widely used in South India as traditional classical instruments, they are often played together. The music produced by this pair of instruments is considered very auspicious

Mallari: a musical item played on the nadaswaram when a temple deity is taken out in procession

sampangi: tuberose flowers

exposure triangle: a technical term in photography consisting of three variables that work together to produce a good photograph

yogi: one who practices yoga or exercises to control body and mind

Ajna chakra: also called ‘Third Eye’, it is situated between the eyebrows and is the focal point in meditative practices

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