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When I was a teenager, I lived in Thiruvananthapuram for several years after I finished High School. My mother's brother and his wife (mama and mami) had a house in the Kowdiyar area while my older sister lived with her husband & children near the Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a favorite of mine. I still remember how clean it was and how Maharaja Chithira Thirunal would come to pray twice a day whenever he was in town. According to Kerala tradition, it is Lord Padmanabha who who ruled the country, and the kings called Padmanabha Dasa, or servant of Padmanabha, were simply acting on his behalf.

Unlike maharajas in many parts of India, the Kerala kings were always simply dressed and humble in the presence of God. During the festival time ( Cheevili), the King would walk around the temple, behind the Gods, with folded hands followed by his brother. Just like the other people there, he wore only a Veshti (dhoti) with no shirt and a simple emerald pendant on a chain. I can still remember the king's humble face.