Nagarajan was a middle level State Government officer in Chennai. He is a rare breed of a State Govt. officer in that he is absolutely incorruptible and at the same time efficient. So he has been transferred to 25 places in the state in his career of 36 years. But he does not mind it. Honour and uprightness has been his pride and he has been blessed with a wife, Rajani, who mirrors the same sentiments. So their life has been a difficult one. They have lived most of their life so far in rented houses, educated their two children (a son and a daughter) in government schools, practised a very frugal life but are rich in knowledge and culture. Fortunately their children also have imbibed these values. They married off their B.Sc. educated daughter, Sukanya, to a school teacher in a very simple marriage ceremony in a temple. He did not pay any dowry and the mandatory gifts were very few. The total cost of the marriage (in 2002) was just around Rs 25,000. His son, Vishwanathan, got a merit seat in Government Engineering College and passed it with distinction. He joined a well known private company as an Engineer in Chennai in 2001 when he was just 22. He married, Geeta, BA, BEd, 22 in 2005. She works as a school teacher. Now he has a daughter, Vasanthi, 6 and a son, Vikram, 4. Geeta also quickly imbibed the values of this family. One prime reason was the mature handling of Geeta by Rajani – neither bossing over her nor being blind to gross mistakes. So Geeta loves Rajani like her own mother and would not mind toeing her line whatever she asks for.
In Apr 2012, Nagarajan retired at 58. In 2011 only he could complete his own simple house which he built with his savings only. The Gruhapravesham he did in 2011 September was also a very simple affair – minimal rites, minimum guests. It was a very pleasant day in the life of Rajani – to enter their own house built out of hard earned money and saved and secured.
A month later in May, Rajani smilingly told her husband “See, you have retired after a long govt service with honour and uprightness and without a single blemish. You might have earned the wrath of hundreds of corrupt people but also the gratitude of thousands of simple ordinary people. Our own house is there. Daughter is well settled with two kids. Son is also well settled with a gem of a wife and two kids. What more we want in life? I have a long standing desire. Can you agree for it?”
Nagarajan was surprised. Rajani never asked for anything for herself. All the fights he had with her was on differences on how to save money, how to educated children, how to help some x,y,z etc. But theirs was an orthodox family and some things are inviolable. So naturally Rajani was hesitant in asking what she was about to ask. Nagarajan said “Go ahead. If it is reasonable and possible, I will definitely satisfy it”. Rajani said “All this could never have been possible without God’s blessings. Why not all of us go to Tirumala?” Nagarajan said “Oh sure. Why are you hesitant about this simple thing?” They had visited Tirumala occasionally, say once in about 3 or 4 years. Always it was only Dharmadarshan. Only their son got a tonsure after he got the job. Vikram’s mottai was also done there when he was 25 months old.
But now Rajani came with a shocker “I want all of us, including me, Geeta and Vasanthi to shave our heads and offer hair to Lord Venkateshwara as thanksgiving and requesting blessings for an upright life for all of us.” Nagarajan was shocked for a moment. Rajani bald? Geeta bald? He recovered and said “Will Geeta agree for it?” Rajani said “I am sure that she will agree”.
The proposal was put up to their son and daughter-in-law after the dinner after the kids went to sleep. Rajani was nervous in spite of her confidence – as to what reaction Geeta will show. But she was surprised with Geeta’s reaction. Geeta embraced her m-i-l “Oh, atte, what a good news! Even as a girl I always had a desire for tonsure once. But my parents never allowed me saying I could do it after marriage if allowed in the new house. And today....” She could not control her tears of joy. She controlled herself and continued “.... is such a golden day. I am all for it. Yes all of us, all the six of us will get nicely tonsured at Tirumala. But I request one concession from you” she said looking at her f-i-l. “What is it?” he asked. Geeta lowered her head and shyly giggled and said “I would like to have a boy cut for about a year and then only grow hair. This is not a condition but a request”. Now Nagarajan was overwhelmed with Geeta’s love and respect for himself and Rajani. “No problem, dear. You can do so. I also suggest that you keep Vasanthi’s head also a nice boy cut for a few years. But the decision will be yours”. Vishwanathan was also happy to hear about Geeta’s choice.
The next week Friday, the six left to Tirupati by bus. All the six walked up the Tirumala hills. The two kids were carried by turn by the four elders and for some distance they also walked up the hills. They rested in a community hall for sometime and later left to Kalyanakatta and bought 6 tickets for tonsure.
Being May, the rush was heavy. It took two hours for the turn of these six to come. They had been distributed among three barbers – all male barbers. In about 20 minutes all the six were rendered nicely and smoothly bald. Young Vasanthi was also happy about her mottai head. Geeta looked a bald beauty and very happy about her baldness. None covered their heads.
After darshan, they all came back to their Chennai home. For everyone who questioned they happily told ‘Tirupati’. When the schools opened, Geeta had just about quarter inch hair. She handled her class with that state only without covering her head.
From August onwards, Geeta takes Vasanti to barber shop every month and gets a nice clipper boycut for Vasanti – clippered close on sides and back and top about ¾ inch long. For herself, she gets a boycut with the sides and back cut close by scissors and the top just one and half inch long and combable. Not only her in-laws and husband are very happy about Geeta’s appearance but her HM and other colleagues are also happy about it.
It is decided that Vasanti’s head will have a boycut like this till she completes 10 years of age. At that time she will be kept tonsured every alternate Sundays for 3 months. After that her boy cut will resume once hair grows. She can start growing hair only after she turns 12.
Rajani will grow her hair fully. Geeta plans to visit Tirumala again this May along with only her husband and shave off her head once more and start growing her hair to its previous length – upto waist. She may shave her head again in 2018 along with her daughter when the latter turns 12.