Pardah Mani: The curtain man of Srivari temple
Worship takes myriad forms. Each one adores God in his own way. Any method is fine if it is within the bounds of cultures. In the case of Mekala Subramanyam, popularly known as ‘Pardah Mani’, it has been religiously stitching curtains for the Lord. He has the unique distinction of offering pardahs (curtains) to Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala for the past 17 years.
Tirupati: Worship takes myriad forms. Each one adores God in his own way. Any method is fine if it is within the bounds of cultures. In the case of Mekala Subramanyam, popularly known as ‘Pardah Mani’, it has been religiously stitching curtains for the Lord. He has the unique distinction of offering pardahs (curtains) to Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala for the past 17 years.
How did he get this opportunity? On this, Mani says humbly, “I am blessed. This is the life God gave to me after I was almost drowned in a tank at the age of 9 years. At the last minute, a nearby brick-making boy saw me going down and called everyone. With great difficulty, they saved me. Only with God’s grace I could have a rebirth. He made me a tailor.”
Mani was born and brought up in Tirupati. He had been to Tirumala umpteen times since childhood, mostly on foot. Seventeen years back, on one such occasion, then JEO of Tirumala, Balasubramanyam, mentioned to Mani inside the temple that the curtains had become old and dirty. Then and there, Mani resolved to stitch new curtains for the Lord. He made them with utmost devotion and took them to the hills trekking all the way.
Since then he has been offering new curtains four times a year, coinciding with four major festivals Ugadi, Brahmotsavams, Aanivara Asthanam and Vaikunta Ekadasi. Each set contains three curtains and two big Kuralams (draperies).
These are used for decorative purposes at three thresholds inside the temple: ‘Kulasekharapadi’, at the doorstep of the sanctum sanctorum, ‘Ramulavari Meda’ and ‘Bangaru vakili’. Similarly, two Kuralams are hung from the ceiling over the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum and in the Sayana Mandapam, where ekantha seva is performed daily before closing the temple for the day.
Once he starts the work of stitching, he will be in complete ‘deeksha’ until the work is done strictly in line with traditions and devotion. It takes almost a month for him to get the material, make a design, and stitch a curtain. This time he offered the curtains on Tuesday for which the theme was Padmavathi Ammavaru. Beads, woolen lace, kundans and other materials would be used on silk cloth to make the curtains.
Mani is a VVIP for TTD. When KV Ramanachari was Executive Officer of TTD, he issued an order offering lifetime Mahadwaram entry for Mani and his family – a rare honour that even a billionaire cannot get. He has this privilege in all TTD temples; yet, never avails of that honour. Instead, he visits the temple through ‘Supadham’ entry only.
He added another feather to his cap when Ajeya Kallam was the EO and then Dy EO of Tiruchanoor approached him to provide a hundi cloth for Goddess Padmavathi Ammavari temple. He made it immediately and with that only the hundi opened in the temple. Whenever the cloth becomes old, he sends a new and properly stitched cloth. He has done this for the Govindaraja Swamy temple also later.
Now he is offering pardahs to Tiruchanoor, Srinivasa Mangapuram, Thiruttani, Kanipakam, Sri Kalahasti, Vontimitta and Sri Sailam. He wants to offer them for more temples. Already, he has got a call from Bhadrachalam temple. With the name of ‘Sri Vari Pardalu’, he will give them to the temple for next Sri Rama Navami.
Asked about the costs of making the curtains, he says he never thinks of it. “I cannot place a value on them”, he says. Whenever the TTD auctions the old curtains at the Administrative building, it gets lakhs of rupees as they were decorative pieces before the God.
On his plans, he says he wants to establish an Ashram by name ‘Sri Kshethram’ where a bhavan, called Sri Vari Pardala Bhavan, would provide shelter for devotees coming on foot from Tamil Nadu during ‘Puratasi’ month’ to worship the Lord at Tirumala.
By V PRADEEP KUMAR