February 7th 2015 will always be a special day in my life due to the Concord Murugan temple Padhayathirai. There is so much to share so thought will pen my thoughts in a blog. Concord Murugan temple is located in Bay area around thirty plus miles away from San Francisco and this walk has been started 4-5 years ago and every year it is gaining so much popularity and the count has been increasing significantly every year; I heard this year they stopped registration when the count reached 1200 and there were good number of people who come on the day without registering like myself; Not everyone can go to Pazhani or Malaysia every year due to number of reasons like availability of leave from your work place, travel restriction, stamping concerns, ticket cost and many other valid reasons; This is where this padha yathirai is so comfortable that you just got to make a domestic round trip. Organizers did an excellent job and let me elucidate by each department.
Organizers had all options available to gratify from kids to all the way to senior citizens; Some people walk from Fremont which makes it around 44 miles padhayathirai; People start Friday morning and basically with this option you have to plan to take a day off from your work; They walk around 24 miles on Friday and stay in San Ramon for the night and then resume the next day; There was pouring rain in Bay area on Friday and hats off to the folks who walked from Fremont. Other option is to walk from San Ramon which I believe was the one majority of us took and also the one I opted for. This is a 20 miles walk. I got a note from one person that there is also one another option which starts all the way from Evergreen San Jose which is further south; with this option you are roughly talking about 65 miles so you have to plan to take two days off since you got to start Thursday morning. I came to know there are one or two people who walked from Evergreen both last and this year; Well all I could could say is incredible gentlemen and wish you many more to follow in the coming years. There are other options like 12+ and 7+ miles respectively to cater overall audience since elders may not want to walk for a very long distance. So long story short you pick and choose an option which works best with your schedule/fitness etc.,
Safety as always is the number one concern especially with this much overwhelming response; I think the team had a well laid out plan in addressing this number one concern. They had volunteers in patrol dresses who both walked and rode a bicycle to make sure everyone is doing fine. They had Vaseline and other stuff necessary in case anyone needs anything. Also with California weather it is very natural for general public to walk, jog, run or take their dog for a walk and the volunteers made sure the general public is not affected due to the large number of people walking. Also at every road crossing they had two people on either sides to coordinate the walking traffic. It was wonderful sight to have many teenage volunteers helping for a good cause.
This was the best part ..Oh my god …let me go one by one ….They planned a stop every 3 miles approximately; Breakfast was served hot with upma, chutneys, bananas and Tea/coffee; In next three miles we had a snack place serving badam halva, Gatorade; In another three miles we had sukku coffee, rose milk, oranges; In another three miles that was the lunch place where we were served sambar rice, curd rice, banana bread etc., In two miles there was another snack place for Tea/Rose milk; Then came a final snack place before the temple where we were served Ilaneer, butter milk, rose milk, panakkam, veg puffs, salad, sundal; Also to make sure kids have something during the walk they had kids juices and candies for them too at many snack depots; So basically the grinder was running or I should say rotating pretty much all the time and to liquify the grinding there were lots of liquid snacks. Finally at the temple they served sambar rice, curd rice, vada, sambar, sweet, Tea/coffee etc., There were lots of sponsors and it is basically a tradition for people to sponsor food for devotees and that was wonderfully planned and executed.More than the food when we see a snack stop we feel elated that we have reached another milestone.
With a long day like this nature’s call is something we got to keep in mind; They rented mobile toilets and it was kept at appropriate junctions for the public to use. Also there were shopping complexes which we passed so people could very well make a quick visit to the shop.
They also arranged a school bus for shuttle service and they made sure people who wanted rides are directed to appropriate people; There were dedicated volunteers who took care of transportation department and the way team worked was amazing to watch as an outsider.
After all the walk our goal is to have a darshan of lord Muruga and it was a great feeling to sit inside the temple and offer our prayers. With very little real estate inside the temple again the volunteers did a great job in controlling the traffic inside the temple. Also as part of second day celebration we have Kaapu kattudhal, Kavadi, Paal kudam, Abhishekam, Thiru kalyanam etc., So for outsiders plan your visit in such a way that you are in town till later part of Sunday afternoon so that you don't miss anything.
The main architect behind this Thai poosam walk is a man called Solai Alagappan …Hats off to this gentleman ….What a rich legacy this man has earned ….He has a great team of volunteers who were incredible in executing the well laid out plans. Not an easy joke to arrange an activity of this magnitude ..May he and his family be blessed always. Also it is wonderful to see people helping each other with so much of positivity in the air; Competing with each other, jealousy , hatred are all like passing clouds in life but the true love and affection and being good at heart is what makes us human beings special and when a religious activity does that you are definitely on high spirits. I personally had a wonderful experience and my purpose of this blog is to encourage you to consider this padha yathirai in the coming years which is one of the very well organized events.
Concord Muruganuku arohara !!!
1) Start early which is important and always be with a group of people
2) Take Vaseline with you and make use of it on all snack stops
3) Shoe is advisable with some nicely padded socks
4) Taking food and water is not necessary in my opinion due to the number of snack stops but still if you want have something and travel light
5) Take ponchos with you so in case if there is a rain it will help you and also it is pretty light weight.
6) Have murugan songs in your phone by that way you can keep playing them during the walk