In his spacious apartment in the western Mumbai suburb of Kandivli, Ramesh Iyer is dressed in a traditional veshti and angavastram. It is a sunny Sunday morning and Iyer is all set to host a bhajan session at his home, where some 400 people are expected to turn up. People are trickling in and at about 10:30 am, the mood in the living room changes from polite conversations and laughter to people sitting down quietly as though for some serious lecture. Every year, during the 41-day austerity period observed by devotees of Lord Ayyappa ahead of the mandala puja at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, Iyer hosts a grand bhajan at his home. Iyer himself is a regular visitor to the Sabarimala temple.
And it’s not just during mandala kalam: bhajan is a ritual every Sunday morning for the managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services. “My interest in bhajans started in 1999, when I attended a session at