This piece in Ealing Times on Saturday morning reminded me about the Sri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Hindu Temple procession this morning. They parade a chariot carrying their goddess around a circular route that goes clockwise out of their front door in Chapel Road in West Ealing, down the Uxbridge Road, right again into Culmington Road and right again into Mattock Lane.
People were starting to arrive at 7am this morning around my house for the 9:45am kick off. Apparently last year there were 10,000 people. This year there were maybe fewer people although it was pretty busy.
I guess there were about 400 people taking part in the procession, there were three parties of 50 or so leading the way. Two waves of guys impersonating horses with silver bits in their mouths and hooks in their backs pulling along “riders”. Then another group accompanied by drummers dancing with urns on their heads.
There were about 100 women walking backwards with pots on their heads. The chariot itself was pulled by 50 or so people and from the chariot priests were blessing bowls of food which people bought up. Finally, some 50 or so guys were rolling behind the chariot. It would be interesting to hear more about what the various parts of the parade mean.
The organisers were twice refused a Traffic Management Order by the council to close roads because they couldn’t get their act together. Talking to both council officers and police officers present both are pretty unhappy about the way the organisers are not playing the game. The crowd are obviously family groups observing their religion and enjoying their culture. One of the organisers told me that the vast majority of people are Sri Lankan Tamils. There were a lot of stewards on duty and on the whole things looked well organised. Last year it took a while to clean up. If the temple is going to keep the goodwill of local people they need to make sure that the area gets cleaned up quickly and they comply with the requirements of the council and the police. Nothing will wind up the neighbours more than the feeling that the temple isn’t playing by the rules.
I would be interested to hear what the neighbours think – and also to hear from the participants.