Our fourth day at Suttur began with a puja to Adi Shivarathriswara, the founder of the mutt, at his samadhi temple. His murti is so small that it is brought out of the sanctum for special guests to offer flowers, chanting the Siva ashtottara. The shrine itself is not small, and a rather large Nandi seats there serenely -- or deliciously, I should say, for he is decorated daily with a kavacham coating of butter, with grapes and chillies made to look like jewels. So playful, so delightful.
We met a craftsman who carries the Sivalingams that Lingayats use. To our surprise, the black round lingam is not a stone, but a concoction of wax and 51 other substances. Inside resides a minuscule stone Sivalingam on a yoni. He melts the black substance, encases the stone Sivalingam in the wax Sivalingam and creates an artifact said to last for a lifetime of devotion.
From there we visited some temples, including Chamundeswari Temple, crowded, and a temple to the Goddess' sister, nearby, nice and less popular.
In the evening we went to the immensely popular fire-walking ceremony -- you can see the second story VIP section on the photos above, at the top of a house. The even went on and on, with amazing performances of popular dancers, acrobats, fire-eaters, nadaswara players, drummers and anyone else who could make some noise. We will upload a video when there is more bandwith.
One more interesting fact: the previous day, when the auspicious yatra parading the murti of the founder was about to roll down the streets, fireworks exploded in the sky with deafening noise. A flock of gigantic birds, disturbed, flew in circles above us, disoriented by the noise. Are they birds? No. Wow, those are bats. Enormous, black bats, awe-worthy and creepy. The poor animals were confused and went away, reminding us that, in many cultures, loud fireworks are meant to scare away evil spirits, demons of mischief and darkness, and perhaps a few innocent bats to symbolize the fleeing forces of ignorant evil.
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