When my daughter was very small, she wanted to accompany me to Tiruvannamalai. She had no idea how arduous Girivalam was but with child-like innocence assured me that she would be able to walk. I was delighted and told her that I would pick her up from school early the next day.
Arunachala being the Universal Father, had other ideas. He didn't want her to miss classes. So he let her leave school only at the regular time and we had to hurry to catch our bus. When we arrived in Tiruvannamalai, I realized there was plenty of time for Karthigai Deepam to be lit. I got the child dosas to eat which she relished. As a father, it was so heartening for me to watch her eat.
There was an unusually large crowd near the temple when the Jyoti was to be lit and we couldn't move. I was worried for the child. I took her on my shoulders. The fire-works started from the vicinity of the temple and the deepam was lit on top of the hill. In the midst of the jostling crowd, my daughter witnessed the 'Annamalai Deepam' accompanied by the chanting of 'annamalyarukku arohara' by all around. It was gratifying for me to have shown her the Universal Father that Lord Arunachaleswarar is. I could see that she enjoyed every moment of it.
On the girivalam path, she was walking with great heart. She never complained of any pain or discomfort. I remembered the saying of Ramana that little children could do girivalam much more easily than adults. In the last leg of the journey, when I was taking her to the temple of 'Bootha Narayana', where one is supposed to end the girivalam, she said--" Appa! my feet are aching". I felt sorry for the child and took her in an auto-rickshaw to the railway station. There was still a lot of time for the train to start, so the lights had not yet been turned on. Even so, we boarded the train. Tired as she was, she fell asleep immediately. I remained awake watching over my child. It felt like Lord Arunachala was watching over me, like I was watching over my child.