Kulai Estate Temple Festival  - Traditional to the grassroots
Kulai estate in Johor celebrated their annual temple festival last weekend. As I wake out from my room to brush, I saw my house owner and his family were already ready to start for this function. With in no time, I got an invite to participate with them. Yes, in 10 minutes was my immediate acknowledgment to them. I always had liking towards recording orthodox festivals at the grassroots but the opportunity for an accomplishment of such thoughts were cut off as an urbanite. Kulai is a small Palm estate, inhabited with few hundred individuals traditionally. Character of the inhabitants can be measured by their attitude in maintaining their estate really fertile, following their traditional festivals wholeheartedly and engaging their guests pleasantly. It was a sort of two days temple festival and the natives were cheerful end to end. This festival brought different mood for different sect of individuals. For visitors like me; It was a memorable moment to remember for life long, for children; It was the moment of freedom to gather along with their cousins, make new friends in that small community and Play the games arranged by the trust and have enormous fun, for Juveniles; this moment was tailor made to exhibit their talents through several thoughtful games held by the trust, such as hit the POT, Climbing Slippery tree (Greased Pole) or standing out in creator activities like singing or dancing and for elders; it was the right time to pass their knowledge on conducting the event, mingle with their siblings and proceed with the possible search of bride or bridegroom for their son or daughter respectively and notably it was the hot spot for the youngsters to search or cherish their loved ones. Festival started with the Theemidhi Ritual (Fire Walking). Experienced legs showed great courage and steadiness in getting through this ritual. First timers literally ran through it before waiting to dip their foot into the milk. Then there were events to respect the estate chief and area counselors followed by banana leaf meals as lunch for all the devotees that included spicy buttermilk and orange juice. Post lunch activities were the real treat for the visitors and the children in particular. It involved games that grouped married couple, Children, missies, Wives and then gents and ladies in general. Organizer added more sprightliness to these activities by giving an live audio commentary that prompted clips from the movie “ Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu”. Married couples fought together to fill a bucket with water from the drenched cloth in less than a minute. Musical chair game for all the other groups was really fun and prompted comments from their kins and group at various stages of the games. Heart of the games was the climbing Slippery tree held before the dusk. Three groups of 6 individuals per team participated and showed their muscular strengths and flexibility to climb their group members to reach the top. First team played brilliantly to reach the top on the first attempt considering the fact that they were the ones who cleaned the grease completely from the tree. Other two teams tried thrice only to lift 4th member of their squad to the top, let alone winning it lifting 7 members to pull the flag from the pole. Then followed pot-breaking events for ladies and gents that had participants of exceptional talents with records of breaking it 7 times in a row. But it was the first timers who created hilarious moments for the crowd. For example, there was one woman who went all the way to her husband and literally tried to hit him with the stick given to her and this man who stopped at the center and started searching for pot and out of excitement referee pushed his stick up and this man targeted the stick for the pot tirelessly. Coming back to toddlers events, children under the age of 4 were asked to pickup chocolates, spread across the floor, as much they can. Smart children collected handful of chocolates and passed them to their parents and came back to hunt more chocolates. Those pitiful cute babies picked handful and dropped them back one by one on the floor not able to hold more than 10 chocolates. Those dropped ones were the added bonus for the smart ones. Smartest kid cashed in 50 chocolates and it was proud moment for the parent to show them to the viewers. Children between ages 5 to 9 had balloon blasting competition. Considering the size of the balloon given to them, it would at least take few minutes of blowing air for the children. But to everyone's surprise, it was blasted with in few seconds from the start. Then it was identified that smart ones used their finger nails and parents hair pins. Those pity cases were blowing the balloon to size of a football even after the first five winners were identified and registered. Balancing the lemon was one other competition held for them. Young ones of age between 10 and 17 had Apple biting competition. Those big mouth grabbed part of it, bitted them to pieces and digested it with in minutes. Smaller mouth endlessly struggled to keep the apple fastened. For some, apple revolved around their faces like a butterfly. And then, there was Ratham Oorvalam. Rath walked through the entire estate and rath followers were supplemented with Sweets by the individual houses. t was 2am when I prepared to start from there after the final festivities. When I passed through the temple, completely loaded with unforgettable memories, RED movie was playing in the huge screen and there were quickly countable golden agers watching it. Altogether, it was a lifetime experience to sum up. To see pictures, please visit my blog at http://www.ramesh-inflame.blogspot.com/