Kovil kudai (கோவில் குடை) is a ceremonial umbrella or parasol and is one of the ‘aacharas’ or service offered to the deity in certain Hindu temples. It is made of a particular type of silk cloth. The colour of the umbrella for the Perumal temple is different from that of other temples. Ceremonial parasol making is an ancient art confined to certain Saurashtrian families in Chindathiripet.
The above scene is from the Manavala Maamunigal utsavam at The Parthasarathy Temple, Triplicane. The procession had 18 umbrellas representing the 18 works of the Saint-Scholar.
The annual procession of Tirupathi Kodai is also famous in Chennai. Every year, devotees from Chennai send 11 ceremonial umbrellas to Tirupati Sri Balaji. These are taken in a procession with a lot of devotion around areas in Chennai and Andhra before presenting to the temple at Tirupathi. These ‘ Thirupathi Kudais’ are treated with great reverence by devotees along the whole route.
Normally you don’t associate the Buckingham Canal with anything pleasant. However, last week I was pleasantly surprised to see flocks of egrets on the trees in Indira Nagar on the banks of Buckingham Canal. What is more, some were even landing on the water hyacinths on the canal making polka dots of white on the green leaves.
Let us hope more species join and the egrets continue to stay there so that we can have another bird ‘sanctuary’ in the city.
The Pallikkaranai wetland was originally covered 6000 hectares. Now it is reduced to a mere 700 hectares due to encroachments and dumping of solid waste.
At last, there is some effort to conserve what is left. As a part of this effort, an eco-park has come up and is thrown open to the public.
A large stage-like entrance greets visitors to this 2.5-hectare park. Different species of trees have been planted and some of them are labeled in English and Tamizh. There are boards and installations of flora and fauna with some useful information that could be of interest to students and nature enthusiasts. There is a fully tiled pathway running parallel to the Velachery-Tambaram road. The other pathway is more interesting. It runs straight from the entrance and is made up of two mud tracks separated by a lawn and goes around a pond. Despite warning signs, people have already started walking on the grass. I am sure selfie-seekers will have a field day. So also serious birders. The water bodies look a bit anemic now but I am sure after the rains, it will be a refreshing sight. There were a few birds- herons, egrets, and cormorants. Again I hope there may be more migratory birds in the season.
There is a feeling that the park is designed more for people than for the flora and fauna. One critic even labeled this Rs.20-crore development as “Greenwashing”. I am of the opinion that any incremental improvement should be celebrated in these desperate times.
The park is open from dawn to dusk. At present, entrance is free but a sign warns “Soonly Tickets will be Collected”!!