The utsava murthi of the Suttur Mutt founder begins a parade through the temple and out into the villages. It will return 10 hours later, having given darshan to those living in the rural neighborhood. There is frenzy and chanting, near danger and nearly impossible to believe devotion. That is Mahaswami below, who took care that we were at his side every moment and never trampled. Swamiji is so beloved here, and everyone you meet tells tales of his goodness, his quiet intelligence, his "elephantine memory. " Swamiji takes us to the chariot, as fire works (well, more like miniature bombs) shatter the sky above. We are asked to be among those who first tug on the giant ropes. Then Swami calls a devotee to take us through the parade, with its dozens of floats, all with a spiritual theme. Among it all, a Brahma bull being decorated with, yes, money. Note the Rudraksha halter. As we preside over the afternoon session and give a small talk, we can see Swamiji from the stage, sitting for five hours as devotees come to have his blessings and fall at his feet. On and on, the line moves quickly, but it never ends. Swami patiently sits, saying hardly a word, but not moving, just honoring each one, and offering sweets to the children. He will do this for days at a time, they say. It's a remarkable discipline, meaning so much to so many. After the amazing Sivalingam puja with Sri Shivaratree Desikendra we were off to the mela site, again fighting our way through crowds, if you can call 250,000 devotees a crowd. They are so well behaved and disciplined. Here is the entry gate to the main temple and gathering tents.
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