This post has been in draft mode for a very long time. Although this is stale news, I did not want to leave this experience unrecorded.
“Look at his little head full of hair”, “What lovely curls”, “I thought he was a girl because of his beautiful hair”, “Why do boys get the best of curls”, “Ha, these curls are so soft”. These are some random comments we have received on Ram’s baby hair. His curls was his wow! feature as a baby. Not any more though. A couple of months back we went on a road trip to the Sri Venkateswara temple in Pittsburgh, which is likened to Tirupati Venkatachalapathi, for a tonsure ceremony for little Ram.
We were that crazy family that drove 20-hours in a 48-hour time period with a toddler and first grader in tow. What can I say? It helps us be in control of our schedule and lets us go where we want when we want. We started past midnight., and completed two thirds of the journey before the kids were in full form early that morning. After an hour or so of break at McDonalds for breakfast, where Ram was joyfully toddling away, and Tuls fell head over heels in love, to my dismay, with the pancakes churned out by the fast food chain, we resumed our journey. We arrived at the temple premises past noon.
After driving for close to 12 hours, the sight of the white majestic gopuram with colorful garden in the front was refreshing to the eyes as well as to the soul. First things first – so peit pooja (that is catering to the needs of our tummies) it was! I was very impressed with how the temple canteen was organized and maintained – food labels in bold, brown bags for take out, and nicely arranged dining area that was being constantly cleaned. Not to mention the food, which itself was heavenly. Some of the food items for sale were – sambar sadam, puliyodharai, curd rice, upma, and sundal. I must warn you though, if you have picky non spicy eaters in your gang, you may want to have back up meal plans.
At the temple we were joined by family and friends, who were driving from their respective houses unmindful of the distance just to be there for us. Imagine the riot if you put a one-year old, a three-year old, a seven-year old, a nearly-seven-year old, and a few adults who are seven-year olds at heart together. Suffice to say that wherever we went we made heads turn around.
The scrumptuous meal, and the laughter in between had us rejuvenated. We rolled up our sleeves and goet down to business. Identifying the vaathiyaar who was in charge of the tonsure ceremony was fairly effortless. Seated on a rug, with a pair of scissors in his hands, Da was asked to chop an inch of Ram’s hair from all four directions. The vaathiyaar followed this with archanais for the family and reciting of slokams. That was it! We were told the locks of hair would travel all the way to India to be donated at Tirupathi. We were advised to head to the local salon for a clean shave and a return to the temple for darshan and archanai, which we followed rather obediently.
And that’s the story of how the diaper dude was temporarily called as the bald headed cannon ball, yet another name given by his anna, in our household.