Murugan Bhakti Newsletter No. 9: Nov-Dec 2001
Deepavali and Kanda Sashti greetings from Murugan Bhakti. The Editor and associates of Murugan Bhakti wish all our Hindu friends a bright and happy Deepavali. And just around the corner is Kanda Sashti from 16-21 November.
The Murugan Bhakti editor will be visiting Trichy and Madurai for Deepavali and will attend the first four days of Kanda Sashti at Tiruchendur before returning to Chennai to attend Kanda Sashti festivities there, too. We hope that this auspicious period will be a time of deepening spiritual maturity for all our friends.
The latest addition to the Murugan Bhakti network of websites Tiruchendur.org has just been launched in time for Tiruchendur Kanda Sashti. Consisting of 33 pages loaded with authoritative text and archival photos, Tiruchendur.org joins its sister sites Kataragama.org and Palani.org (now Palani.org) as the first three Murugan temples to have their own exclusive websites.
Text and black/white photos for http://tiruchendur.org are extracted from Tiruchendur The Seashore Temple of Subrahmanyam, the long-out-of-print definitive 1948 book by J. M. Somasundaram Pillai. The site includes a detailed floor plan of the sprawling granite Devasthanam and 15 archival B/W photo scenes of Tiruchendur as it looked in the 1940s as well as the editor's color photos of Tiruchendur as it looks today.
Murugan Bhakti has recently acquired the long-sought domain name www.Palani.org for the official website of Palani Arumigu Dandayudhapani Swami Devasthanam. The same website palani.org will henceforth be known as Palani.org, but both domains will continue to point at the same website. The site already has hundreds of color photos and is still growing.
Following meetings with Vallimalai Balananda Sadhu and Rathinagiri Balamurugan Adimai, authorization has been granted to greatly expand the existing web materials into brand new websites Pongi.org and Ratnagiri.org respectively for Valli Malai and Rathingiri Bala Murugan Devasthanam. Pongi.org is scheduled to go online by the end of November this year and Ratnagiri.org by the middle of December. Both official sites will carry exclusive archival photos and authoritative texts.
Since Newsletter #8, the Editor completed his first US visit since 1995 and returned to Sri Lanka in time for his 15th 40-day Kataragama Pada Yatra from Trincomalee to Kathirkamam in Sri Lanka. Despite the island's precarious economic, political and military situation, more devotees than ever before walked to Kataragama -- and yet the pada yatra was one of the smoothest and trouble-free yatras in recent memory. Now so many villagers want the pada yatra pilgrims to halt in their village that an itinerary has to be carefully worked out to satisfy everyone. The Pada Yatra, once hardly known outside of the East Coast, this year attracted fairly extensive coverage in the Sri Lankan press, radio and television -- a healthy development, considering the positive message that Pada Yatra conveys to a society torn by decades of ethnic conflict. In Kataragama, too, the pilgrims were the object of documentation by researchers, magazine photographers and video teams from the French Ministry of Education and French cable television.
Almost as soon at the Kathirkamam festival was over, the editor returned to Madras after 15 months travel and adjusted to his new daytime career as a language instructor and immigration coach for the Atlanta law firm Smith White Sharma & Halpern. He is now Program Director of its Fast Track USA program -- visit swshindia.com for details.
The Editor's new daytime position in Madras provides him with a law office infrastructure in the central Nungambakkam business district, facilitating travel and collaboration with other devotees in the Madras area, as well as serving as a base for weekend trips to Murugan temples in Tirupporur, Palani, Virali Malai, Valli Malai, Rathinagiri, Kanchipuram and elsewhere. The combination of Internet publishing tools and mobility have been leaving their mark on Murugan Bhakti websites, as a cursory visit will confirm. Murugan Bhakti websites now feature 19 photo galleries alone, and the original site Murugan.org has grown in size to the extent that it is necessary to expand the network to new domains including, to date:
with two more -- Pongi.org and Ratnagiri.org expected to join the network before year's end. In addition, the Editor has joined with the erudite Muruga bhaktar Vallaiaya Ra. Krishnan and Senthli Adimai Sundaram of Besant Nagar in a venture produce a CD version of Nakeerar's Tirumurugaarrupadai ('Guide to Muruga') using narration by Śrī la Śrī Kripananda Variyar Swamigal. This could be the precursor to a series of Murugan Bhakti CDs produced by the Tiruppugazh Sangamam of Madras.
The steady expansion of the Murugan Bhakti network over the past year -- plus the tight working budget of the Editor who subsists on an Indian salary -- have resulted in a decision to invite Murugan Bhakti visitors to contribute to the network's very modest cost of renting Internet server space. Now visitors like you who enjoy accessing the Murugan Bhakti network's non-profit websites can contribute materially to its maintenance and growth.
Our goal is to raise only US$ 300, a very modest sum by any reckoning but enough to pay for our server space for year 2002 and expand it by at least 50% (our minimum projected expansion). Tamil devotees routinely contribute far larger sums to construct temples. Why not contribute a fraction of that cost to build a temple of knowledge, a digital resource center easily available to devotees and scholars worldwide? You too can be a Murugan Bhakti tiruppani.
One or two generous patrons are all that is needed to cover our annual server space bill to EasyLink service providers in Vada Palani, Chennai. But we decided to make it as easy as possible for almost any visitor to make a contribution of as little as US$ 10 by major credit card from the Murugan Bhakti fund drive page. Just go to this page (or click through using the 'Support Murugan Bhakti' icons found on the websites), select the amount you wish to contribute, and you will be guided through the easy process of making a one-time fixed payment to the account of Murugan Bhakti at Easy Link service providers. Note that your contribution goes straight into the Murugan Bhakti account at Easy Link.
Murugan Bhakti Newsletter No. 9 Newsletter of Murugan.org, Kataragama.org and Palani.org and Tiruchendur.org websites.
To read past issues, go to the Murugan Bhakti online archives at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/murugan_bhakti/
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