Navagraha Ottam - Part # 5 - Support Crew Flexibility
Navagraha Ottam was a multi-day, multi-leg event. Each of the four days, we stayed at different places and each day had multiple legs. While the runners got up everyday and ran, the support crew had the envious task of taking care of everything else. They had to ensure that the runners were supported on the road while working to get the breakfast, lunch and dinner ready at the same time. Let me not forget the bedding and luggage. Support crew also had to transport blankets, pillows besides the luggage of all runners. So it was a durbar move every day.
Going to back to the food part, it is not just the preparation, but also serving the runners at different places as we kept moving. The best laid plans can go awry and that's what happened on day 2. Here is that story..
On the day#2 of the Navagraha Ottam, we covered 3 Navagraha sthalams. The initial plan was to complete the temple darshans by 11:00 AM and reach Vanathirajapuram for lunch. But, that proved to be too ambitious. While the temples were close by, it tooks us longer at each temple and few of the runners also made a quick side trip to Uppliyappan koil from Thirunageswaram. So, we started couple of hours behind schedule from our first stop. This delay along with the harsh Sun took a toll on the runners slowing us down significantly.
On each day, first leg was the easiest. runners were generally fresh after good night sleep and would comfortably cover 10 - 15k before the Sun came up. That was the case on day#2 as well. We started from Thippirajapuram around 5:15AM and comfortably reached Thirunageswaram by 7:00AM covering about 11k.
Thirunageswarm -Rahusthalam (திருநாகேஸ்வரம் - ராகுஸ்தலம்)
அரவெனும் ராகு அய்யனே போற்றி
கரவா தருள்வாய் கஷ்டங்கள் நிக்கி
ஆக அருள் புரி அனைத்திலும் வெற்றி
ராகுக் கனியே ரம்மியா போற்றி
|Thirunageswarm, Raghusthalam is a massive temple, well maintained. It also has a beautiful pushkarini (temple tank). Some runners took a dip while waiting for everyone to assemble.|
|It seems customary for devotees to shed some of their clothes in the Pushkarini after the dip (aking to shedding their sins?) I found mounds of clothes rotting in beautiful hallways of the temple tank. Wonder why it can't be put to better use,,|
|All Navagrahas looking at Suryan in the middle. It was pointed out as something unique to this temple. Selva - Do you know the significance behind this..? Any interesting story?|
We started from Thirunageswaram well past 9:00 AM and by that time Surya Bhagavan was out in all his glory. This slowed us significantly and it took many of us over 1 1/2 hours to cover 11k distance to our next stop.
Suryanar Koil - Suryasthalam (சூரியனார் கோவில் - ஸுர்யஸ்தலம்)
சீலமாய் வாழச் சிரருள் புரியும் ஞாலம் புகழும், ஞாயீறே போற்றி
சூரியா போற்றி.. சுதந்திரா போற்றி,
விரியா போற்றி, வினைகள் களைவாய்
By this time, we were well past our schedule. Our lunch was going to be at Vanathirajapuram, which is a good 12k away. Runners who were already badly toasted and didn't have any juice left to step out on to the steaming roads. Here is where the flexibility of the support crew came through. Narayanan re-routed the lunch caravan to Kanjanur and we were allowed to rest within the temple premises. While that was coming, Selva also arranged for us to have temple annadhanam food. It was frugal and minimalist but tasted yummy for few of us who took it.
Detailed booklet on the Navagraha Ottam here
Navagraha Ottam album here