MADURAI: Thousands of people gathered at Sri Muniyandi Sami temple in the village of Vadakkampatti, in Thirumangalam, Madurai, for the biannual festival.
The village’s claim to fame is the restaurants named after the temple by the people here. Explaining the family practice, P Ramasany, who runs a hotel at Poonamallee in Chennai, said, “When the children reach their teens, they go to a hotel run by a relative. From the basics like cleaning tables, they graduate to supplier, master, cashier and eventually leave and start up their own hotel.”
Hundreds of hotel owners from the village, like Ramasamy, who owe their success to Muniyandi Sami, gather at the village every year to organise the grand two-day festival, a thanksgiving of sorts that has been on for the past 80 years. “The first bill each day in our hotels is in the name of Muniyandi. The money we save through those bills is donated for the festival,” said M Jeyaraman, whose ancestor was one of the first to set up hotels and also played a role in setting up the temple. The young generation of hoteliers are, however, moving to other professions. But the hoteliers are hopeful that the festival never loses its grandeur. “Though our children may not get into this business, we teach them never to forget their roots,” said Ramasamy. Until a few decades ago, the festival remained an annual festival. Difference of opinion between the Naidus and Reddiars led to the festival becoming a biannual festival. While the Naidu community celebrates it on the second Friday of the Tamil month of Thai, the Reddiar community celebrate it in the next Tamil month of Maasi.