6.00 a.m., saw 350 walkers,led by Sri M left Sai Baba Temple, Pothayadi towards Nagercoil, a distance of 16 kilometers.
An hour & a quarter later, we had a brief halt at Swamithoppe, one of the main centers of Ayyavazhi* (Path of the Father) (to be be linked to a brief write up on Ayyavazhi given at the end of this email). The Head of the Ashram - Sri. Pattathu Ayya Bala Prajapathi Adikalar, who was one of the Guests of Honor at the Flag Off ceremony yesterday, hosted us at Swaithoppe. The Adikalar, Sri Harjinder Singh and Sri M spoke briefly on the theme of of all religions and equality of all human beings, after which tea and snacks were offered.
Leaving Swamithoppe at around 8.00 a.m., we walked on the highway with the beautiful countryside and lush, green paddy fields on both sides. The landscaped changed in between to picturesque water bodies filled with blooming lotuses. The last 3 kilometers saw us walking through Nagercoil town. We reached the halting station - South Travancore Hindu College* just before 12 noon. We had lunch by 1.30 p.m..
The evening program started with a performance of Villu Pattu¹ (Bow Song) for about an hour and ended with a brief talk by Sri M, followed by dinner.
* Ayyavazhi (The path of The Father) is a belief system in South India. It is believed that Ayya Vaikundar is an incarnation of the Lord Narayana, based on their holy scriptures Akilattarattu Ammanai. Some people believe it is a religion on its own while some take it as a sect of Hinduism. While the basic tenets are mainly based on the Hindu texts, its deviation is mainly based on its belief in the 'formless absolute'. Its' importance in the last 150 years is that it acts as a reformation agent in Tamil & Malayalam society, against the then feudal Travancore governemnt. It is also seen as the origin of other reform movements like Narayana Guru. The followers of Ayyavazhi have been instrumental in many a movement in areas of sustaining and reviving natural ecology and equality of humankind.
*Southern Travancore College, Nagercoil. Founded in 1952, the college is affiliated to The Manonmaniam Sundarayar University,offering courses in graduation and post-graduation.
¹Villu Pattu is an age old form of story telling through music. Stories are interspersed with music and it is an art form belonging to Kanyakumari district and South Kerala. This is a very popular art form from the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom. The tunes and the verses are very simple and easy to follow. The villu or the bow, which was used as a weapon is now paradoxically used as the main musical instrument as an accompaniment to the singing.