Situated a few kilometers before Thindivanam, Orathy is a quaint village belonging to the Kanchipuram district. My forefathers had long migrated from this village to various parts of the country in search of greener pastures. In fact, till recently, none of us in our family, including our extended family, truly knew where is village even existed. The only “Orathi” we knew were from the initials of my grandfather. We decided to talk to the elders of the family and consult our astrologer to find out further about the village. The need to find our family deity and about our roots drove us to an interesting treasure hunt.
After much deliberation, we drove down to the village. It felt like being transported to a scene from Bharathiraaja movie. Lush greenery, simple huts, people on bicycle and rustic smell of a typical village welcomed us. Though urbanization had slowly begun to spread its ugly tentacles there too, the charm of a simple agricultural village remained unmatched. The people were warm and welcoming. It is a common complaint that when people from city drive down, the touts of the village rob them of their money in the name of charity. Surprisingly, we faced no such experience.
The village has three prominent temples – Shri Prasanna Venkatesha Perumal temple, Sri Selliyamman temple and Sri Draupadi Amman temple. We were able to trace out much history about the latter two temples while the first temple was built 1012 years ago by a Chozha king according to an inscription on the temple walls.
When we embarked on this journey, I asked myself why really? It did feel intriguing to discover a new place, but Chennai is the only home I know of. Could one really connect with a place which was supposed to be ancestral home, but only for namesake? Could one really identify with a deity unknown?
To my utter surprise and mild disbelief, the place felt like home. The deity we identified as our “Family temple/god” or Kula Dheivam felt too familiar. Our Kula dheviam is Draupadi Amman. The village has a beautiful little temple for her constructed like a shed, smack in the middle of a large clearance. I felt at peace the moment I stepped into the temple. The place as such was so serene. To a seasoned city girl, the experience of feeling utter calmness was borderline unnerving yet was placating. Draupadi, is my favorite character from Mahabratha. She is a character of true strength. Visiting her holy abode inspired me continue to write the story I had quit mid way. For reasons beyond my phantom, after each trip to this village, my creativity peaked. We made just two trips, with the second one being today, yet I feel like writing my head out.
This trip taught me the importance of community orientation. Could it have been that in older times, to maintain a vibrant and viable community, our ancestors had introduced the concept of celebrating the Kula Dheivam?
On this thought, signing off with pictures from both our trips.