Its not often you get blessed thrice in the same day. It was my wife’s birthday and we happened to be in Tanjore and first stop @ big temple( for her – me and Arvind had already been to Pullamagai in the morning!!). Pushed our luck by calling Kudavoil Balasubramaniam Sir, and such a humble person that he is, he immediately came to meet us and gave us a guided tour of Periya Koil.
We have already seen the Dhakshan beheading panel and the Kama Dahana panels previously.
The current panel is a sequel to those. Shiva has been convinced to come back to becoming a householder and Dhaksayini has been reborn as Uma – the daughter of Himavan, the King of the Mountains. Maybe the only verse i remember from Sanskrit class is atha osadhinaam athipasya vrithow !!! from the Kumarasambava. Not sure if the current story is found in Kalidasa’s version, but it loosely follows the rendition in the kantha puranam ( though a later work to the sculpture).
The background plot is simple, Himavan is convinced by the seven Rishis sent by Shiva and agrees to give his daughter to Shiva. Now comes the tough part, to convince his wife – Menai. The Queen, being what any mother would be, comes over to take a look at the bridge groom for the first time, expecting him to come dressed in all his finery and flanked by the very best in the procession.
Lets see how Shiva turned up for his marriage procession – keep in mind current day baraats – the festivities , revelry and sarees, sherwanis, jewelery and money that are on display- the bridegroom in a designer sherwani on a majestic white horse, with an assortment of pretty looking women and boisterous men , equally decked up.
Here he is, wearing his elephant skin trunks, with his horde of Ganas, on his bull. There is a pet snake thrown in as well, rearing up form his left hand as he nonchalantly turns around to pose for the camera !!
What a shock it would have been to the welcome party. No wonder, the future mother in law Menai panicked
She is already scared for he known for taking the heads ( brahma, dhaksha) , she refused to accept that this uncouth youth could be her son in law.
Finally, Brahma, Vishnu, Narada all came and explained the actions of Dhaksha that led to his downfall and the mighty grace of Shiva to have restored him to life albeit with a Goat’s head. The marriage does take place and finally – ALL IZZ WELL in Kailash – and ready for the birth of Kumara !!
A big thanks to Kudavoil sir. But Sir, has explained this sculpture differently in his latest book, will see it shortly.