Archive for April, 2009


Meenakshi Temple – Kumbabishekam

Apr 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

See the priests?I have been spending most of my time in the lab recently, but one time I did manage to make it out was on April 8th, for the Kumbabishekam, or consecration ceremony, at the Meenakshi Temple. Read a short news article about the ceremony. Basically, a bunch of Brahman priests stand on top of the gopurams (towers) on each part of the temple, and pour holy water on it at the same auspicious time. I didn’t manage to get tickets to be inside, as I think they are reserved for Hindu believers, but I could see from the outside. There were thousands of people who lined up to see the event and attend the temple afterwards. I read one report that there were over two lakh people there (200,000).  The event only happens once every 12 years, and it is a beautiful time to see the temple as it has just been cleanly painted. It was an especially great sight after being here for eight months, with it covered this entire time! The other good news is that an Indian Fulbrighter who works at Aravind has offered to give me and some friends a tour of the Meenakshi Temple before I leave in May. I can’t believe my time is coming to an end!

I’m happy to report some progress on the research front, although it seems like there has been one problem after another. Now I’m obtaining the corneoscleral rings I need, but there have been other technical issues in establishing In Situ Hybridization in the lab. The latest obstacle was to find adhesive microscope slides so that the cells I’m working with would stop falling off before I could take a look at them! Fortunately, Gowri came up with some special slides that an American had brought some time ago and that no one had needed to use so far. So I’m happy to say that the stem cells I am studying are nicely adhering their slides, and hopefully I’ll have some pictures from the confocal microscope soon. Now that most of the kinks have been worked out in our research technique, I need to teach it to someone else in the lab so that she can use it in her PhD research.

Spending time in Madurai – In Situ Hybridization

Apr 05, 2009 in Uncategorized

Pandian RestaurantThe last two weeks have been a little unusual as I’ve spent them entirely in Madurai! The main reason is that I am trying to get some good results with my lab work, which has proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. The main challenge is getting enough donor eyes for my research. In a way it is good for the hospital, because so many of the globes are being used for transplant, but that makes it hard for my research to progress. 

Next week is also a big one in Madurai because there is a festival called the kumbabishekam coming up. It only happens once in twelve years, and apparently nearly a million people fill the Meenakshi Temple for this one! The temple has been covered for several months due to the renovation that was going on there, but will now be uncovered for this festival. Hopefully I’ll get pass from friends in the hospital and be able to go that day too, at least for some great pictures.

Other than that, I’ll be working in the lab trying to get my experiments working!