We started at about 2 pm in air conditioned taxi. The trip took two and half hours by the time we reached Guntur city.The roads leading to Guntur were dug up in preparation to make a Fly over and the traffic was detoured which took one hour to enter the road leading to Syamalanagar where sister’s house is located.We reached the house at sunset and I got acute laryngitis due to dust allergy/ pollution which made me completely inaudible.By the time we carried our luggage inside we saw Rama, Keertika and Prakash reached home. They came driving from Nellore to Guntur for the three day weekend due to the big festival of Pongal. It was a pleasant surprise to see all of them since we were thinking of how to see them without travelling to Nellore. Keertika is in second year Medical school at Nellore, Dr Prakash closed his practice for three days and Rama who is posted to Ongole on promotion to Civil Surgeon took a day off. Since Dr Prakash’s mother lives in the same block of Syamalnagar, Guntur, they were floating between the two houses. Guntur is a city where we have my eldest sister’s house and Indira’s youngest sister’s house.
We planned to be in Guntur for almost a week to spend the holiday time. RVMK Prasad, my friend and classmate from Banaras EngineeringCcollege called me at Jackson and told me he will meet us in Guntur and take us to Amaravathi twenty miles from Guntur. RVMK Prasad’s family founded the temple in Amaravathi situated on the banks of river Krishna four hundred years back.There is a stone engraved with their names on the wall of the temple. It is a place of historic importance and there was a movie called “Saptapadi” that was taken in and near the temple in 1970s. Recently the Government traced the family and made Prasad the President of the Board of Trustees for the temple. He spends three days each month working on the temple organization. Prasad’s family is originally from Guntur but all of the family members are settled in Chennai. He is married to the daughter of the great LV Prasad the famous movie actor and Director of Chennai. On thirteenth morning he came to my sister’s place and took us to Amaravathi for a special Visit (Darshan).The temple staff did all services to God, the same way they do to the politicians or other important people. We registered our name for a special Pooja and Abhishekam with a donation to be held on March 2, ’11 for Mahasivaraatri. We spent time to see the museums and historic architecture in Amaravathi. Then we had lunch and returned to Guntur by about 3 pm.
Pongal is observed to celebrate the harvest season of the crops.Keertika wanted to decorate the front yard with Rangoli. On January thirteenth, she went to the market to purchase some colored chalk, and decorated the front from 8pm to 11 pm. January 14th the first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is the end of winter and every house traditionally has a bonfire in the front and families gather around. We all did the same thing.On this day it is customary for a person to decorate a bull called “Gangireddu or Basavanna” and take him to each house and collect money. The second day January 15, is called Sankranti when people decorate their houses with Rangoli in the court yard and everyone wears new clothes. Third day of the festival January 16th is called Kanuma a big day for the blue collar workers when they celebrate with vine and dine.
. We visited Devaki (Indira’s sister) and her husband Sekhar at Brodiepet and spent some time with them. Sekhar and Devaki showed us their new house they decided on for buying.Rama and family left Guntur on 17th. On 18th morning we left for Vijayawada by taxi. While going thru Vijayawada we noticed a sign called “Achanta Laxmipathi Ayurveda Nilayam” in my Grandfather’s name. We left for Chennai on 18th morning by Navjeevan Express from Vijayawada.