Wednesday, March 18, 2009



March 18, 2009

A Divine Couple:

Sri Ezhilmani and Smt. Nagalakshmi

Sri Bala Peetam, Nemili.

Sri Bala interrupted my meditation this morning and said “ I want you to publish on the blog site that pencil sketch you did recently of my son, Ezhilmani and his wife and write a short article about how this drawing came to be executed”.

So, I sat in front of my computer and prepared to type. Hardly had I typed in the first word when I was interrupted by the doorbell. For the next half hour I was kept busy doing a few chores.

The relaxed mood was gone and when I sat down in front of my laptop once again, I didn’t feel like writing anything. Closing my eyes I tried to shut off all thoughts, including that of Bala.

I told her I wasn’t in the mood to talk to her just then. However, a plaintive voice kept interrupting the silence. “ Please don’t fight with me. I want you to write up this piece today and publish that drawing on the website. Please do this task for my sake. Mentally, I could see a little child dragging me reluctantly by my hands.

Wiping away my tears, I remarked rather grudgingly “ Ok Bala, I’ll do this for you today. However, You must tell me what to write. I am simply not in a suitable frame of mind to type an article for my website”.

Swiftly came the response “ I’m glad you listened to me. Don’t worry, you will only put down what I want you to write”.

So here I am, giving you this little prelude to the topic of today’s blog.

Why did I draw a pencil sketch of Sri Ezhilmani and his wife?

Well, a week ago, I received a CD from Sri Bala Peetam at Nemili containing some photos taken at Sri Ezhilmani’s 71st birthday celebrations. I also received two of the CD’s that had been released on that day. The first one “ Elimaye Ezhil” contained songs in praise of Ezhilmani, highlighting the fact he is an embodiment of simplicity. In fact, there is a song in this CD sung by a young child praising the Peetathipadhi. When I listened to it I felt here was Sri Bala herself , happily singing in praise of her son!

The second CD called “ Ezhilmani’s Isai Yathirai” contains a collection of songs in praise of Pillayar, Murugan, Shiva, Vishnu, Ayyappan, Amman, etc. The listener is taken on a virtual pilgrimage to all the famous temples dedicated to the above mentioned deities culminating in a visit to Sri Bala Peetam.

I listened to these two CD’S over and over again savouring the lyrics and music , mentally thanking the many singers who had put in so much effort in rendering these lilting melodies.

The photo album containing some 300 photos taken during the two days of Sri Ezhilmani’s birthday transported me to the venue where this function was hosted and made me feel fulfilled as if I had virtually attended the event and received the divine couple’s blessings.

It was at this moment Sri Bala asked me to do a painting of her son and his wife. However, there were so many photographs and I didn’t know which one to choose . Here too, Bala was in command. She seemed to sit in my thoughts so firmly that day. Without hesitation, I picked out just one photo of the couple. That was it! My drawing would be based on this solitary photograph of the smiling couple.

The moment I made this choice, a parcel was slipped through my letter box. This contained the little pamphlet called “ Bala Vijayam”, a monthly newsletter from the Peetam. Opening it I flipped through the pages and at the end, there were some photos of the birthday function. It was hardly a surprise to find that the photo I picked ( or rather, chosen by Bala) was the one posted right at the end , with the caption , “ end of the function”.

I decided to go to the nearby internet café to print out this photo on a larger sheet of paper, so I could see the details more clearly. It was a bright and sunny afternoon, albeit cold. My husband and I decided to walk up to the shop as it would be a good 30 minute exercise. We had hardly proceeded for five minutes before the skies turned ominously dark. Thunder clouds scudded across the sky. I quickened my pace hoping to reach the shop before the heavens opened up. I was not lucky. There was a huge bolt of lightening, followed by an ear splitting crackle of thunder and rain started pelting down in the form of hail stones.
I opened the tiny, emergency umbrella tucked inside my handbag but this provided no protection whatsoever as the winds were too strong.

We were already half way up to the shop. Taking shelter in the foyer of a nearby restaurant, I suggested to my husband we should turn back. However, he insisted that we should be able to make it to the internet shop.

Meanwhile, even as I stood at the entrance of that restaurant, soaking wet and my shoes squelching with water, I heard Bala distinctly . She said “ Don’t think that its all that easy to do this drawing. This rain is a sign of blessing to you because you are chosen to draw it. It also indicates the power exuded by this divine family. The rain will stop exactly the moment you print out this photo”.

We waited ten minutes hoping for the rain to abate. It did not seem to be lessening in strength. Finally, my husband and I just ran the remaining distance, entering the internet café , with water dripping from our faces and coats.

Within a few minutes, I finished the task of enlarging the photo of Sri Ezhilmani and printed it out on an A4 sheet of paper. Contrary to my expectations, the color quality wasn’t very good at all. However, that was the best resolution I could get that day!

My mind was whirling with many conflicting thoughts. Perhaps, I shouldn’t really do this drawing. I have never done portraits before. I wasn’t too sure if I could copy and portray these lovely people to Bala’s satisfaction.

Just as the sheet of paper was ejected from the printer, I looked out of the shop window. The rain had stopped completely!!

There was not a trace of it; no drizzle, nothing. The sun was coming out! I paid for my photo and walked out of the shop into sunshine. My husband who had remained quiet thus far, remarked “ Wow, that’s really amazing. I’ve never, ever experienced such an unnatural phenomenon before.”

We could see too, that many people on the street had been caught out totally unprepared for this sharp, sudden downpour.

After I reached home that day and got out of my wet clothes, I immediately set about the task of drawing this picture.

Although I was extremely skeptical of my ability to do a portrait, I placed all my trust in Bala and she has guided me step by step to complete this drawing. The result as you can witness is as She intended. Sri Ezhilmani is an extremely simple and humble person despite his high status as the head of Sri Bala Peetam. As if to reinforce this particular virtue, Bala asked me to present this drawing as a very plain pencil sketch even though I initially wished to depict this portrait in color. Similarly, Smt Nagalakshmi or “Baby Amma” as everyone calls her is an extremely cheerful lady, a personification of calmness and grace. The warmth and affection with which she greets all visitors to the Peetam and the hospitality she extends are greatly appreciated by one and all!

I sincerely hope that a glance of the shining and serene faces of this lovely couple brings happiness and joy in all your lives.


Itz me!!! said...

Nice pencil sketching Uma..the details have been brought out in great depth!!!

Krishnan said...

Execellant Portait !! It is as good as seeing the divine couple !!