Athi Varadhar festival ends, deity back in pond
Tamil Nadu

Athi Varadhar festival ends, deity back in pond

S Murari

A 48-day festival in the Kancheepuram ended shortly after midnight Saturday with the immersion of the Athi Varadhar idol in a temple pond where it will remain till the next darshan in 2059.

The once in 40 years festival that lasted 48 days attracted nearly one crore devotes to the town for a darshan.

They included President Ram Kovind. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami, Dpeuty O Pannerselvam, Telengana Chief Minister Chandrasekhara Rao and film star Rajinikanth.

Though the festival is traditionally held in the Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple,it was shifted to nearby Devaraja Swamy temple this year in anticipation of heavy rush.

The deity  was immersed in the Ananthasaras, the temple pond, in the Devaraja Swamy temple after rituals by priests in the early hours of Sunday.

Adorned in silk,decorated with flowers and anointed with medicated oil, the idol made of fig tree wood, was placed in a reclining position in the pond where it will remain for the next 40 years.

Temple priest Srivastav said nearly 500 lites of the medicated oil was applied to the idol as well as the pedestal to preserve it during the 48-day festival when the deity gave darshan in reclining and standing postures.

He said the medicated oil was to protect the idol from termites. He said this procedure was followed during the festival in 1937. Though the next festival should have been held in 1977, it was held only in 1979 to coincide with the concretion of the temple gopuram.

He said he had the darshan for the first time only this year on June 23 when the idol was taken out of the pond and into the temple.Srivastav recalled: “I was the first to touch the Lord when he was taken out of the pond. The image was covered with silt. But yet a pleasant aroma emanated from the chamber due to medicated oil applied in 1979.”

The festival began on July 1 and ended Aug 17. Public darshan was stopped  a couple days ago to prepare for the immersion of the idol in the pond.

The town, known for silk sari,  came to normal only on Sunday morning with vehicles from outside leaving, barricades in and around the temple removed and extra police personnel withdrawn.

Though merchants also had a darshan of the deity for the first time, they felt their business would pick up again with the town back to business.