The Nataraja of Chidambaram

Abhroneel Ghosh

The temple empty, inanimate in its loneliness,
The stone floors cold, frigid, unfeeling in the night,
As the hoysala-lioned archways stand tall but hollow,
With no sound to echo through their pillars.
A seeming mausoleum to centuries past.
Yet tis but a slumber to be awakened in the morn,
As two men fan away with pink bamboo at brass,
Billowing clouds of Frankincense past the goburams,
The honey-sweet fragrance rushing from their fingers,
Garlands of rudrakshas covering their bare bulbous chests.
As an ancient woman in a sari with worn borders,
Yet the red within remaining resplendent as ever,
Etches alpanas unseen in a corner, then the sides of the steps,
Peeking between strokes at the rites of the deity,
The rice flour falling in neat five lined curves.
Or as a middle-aged lady clad in orange-green,
Stands before the bars of a yet unopened gate,
Oblivious to those around her, eyes closed in harmony,
As she navigates the arohans in carefree precision,
Of a graceful hymn to a God she cannot see.
For the temple lives on through souls such as these,
And just as the mirrors behind the stone lingam,
Reflect and make many the flames of but a few,
So the temple echoes the lives of such a crew,
And the Nataraja dances on through them.

Abhroneel Ghosh, age 19, is currently a second-year undergraduate student at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. As somebody who enjoys listening to Mongolian metal as much as Rajasthani folk music, he enjoys exploring fascinating topics across domains, ranging from machine learning to juggling. While he enjoys stargazing, trekking, and playing the piano, his favorite activity would simply be curling up with an enthralling book. Recent reads include Interpreter of Maladies, The Outsider, and The Heretics.

"South Indian Temple Tamil1" by Vinoth Chandar is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!