If you happen to be in Chennai and come December you will see a huge multitude of people adorning black/ blue/ orange dhotis with sandal and Kumkum smeared on their foreheads and a beaded necklace gracing their necks. These are the devotees who have vowed to visit the Sabarimala temple and are in their preparation/ vrath for the same.
Every time I come across these people, the one month of transformation I see in them is just amazing. These are devotees who are from all walks of life and who are hence are no different from an average crowd when it comes to attitude/ behavior/ yielding to temptations. However, during this one month of preparation time, a vast majority of them put enormous efforts in staying good and maintain a very high level of personal hygiene. They bathe twice a day, pray at least twice a day, visit temples, stay clean, don’t use filthy language, avoid visits to TASMAC (Govt's liquor marketing agency in Tamilnadu) and try and speak the truth at all times. I have never been to Sabiramala.. But yet whenever I see these devotees, I am just very happy about the power of religion and faith and its transformational powers on its followers.
Winter (namely December - before my friends chide me that there is no winter in Chennai) is the best time to enjoy Chennai. The pleasant climate, the general perceived purity in the atmosphere (sabarimala season, marghazi bhajans, religious discourses), the carnatic music festival (and the sumptuous sabha lunches) and the festive spirit that lingers on in the anticipation of Pongal and Thai masam, makes Chennai truly unique during this period.