Hundreds of devotees from different parts of the State had darshan of Marakatha Natarajar idol, in its original form, after the removal of sandalwood paste at Sri Mangalanathar Temple as part of Arudhra darshan celebration here on Saturday.
To begin with, the gurukkal removed the sandalwood paste from the idol and smeared it with sandalwood oil. Later, 11 kinds of abishekams, including milk, paneer, curd, tender coconut, ghee, panchamirtham and turmeric, were performed to the little more than five-foot-tall idol installed in a very small ‘garbagriham' near the main sannidhi of the temple in the morning.
After abishekam, pilgrims were allowed to have darshan of the emerald idol.
After Arudhra dharshan, the idol will again be coated with sandalwood paste in the early hours of Sunday, said the gurukkals.
Even as removal of sandalwood paste normally took place in the morning every year, this time, holy ritual was completed after 10 a.m. only. This delayed other ceremonies further.
The sanctum sanctorum was opened once in a year only.
Poor crowd management
Even as the crowd was moderate and easily manageable, devotees faced untold misery owing to poor crowd management. Neither the police nor the temple organisers paid least attention to regulate it. At one stage, police could even implement alternate plans to clear crowd owing to poor cooperation of organisers.
With closure of all gates, women and children inside the temple had struggled a lot. Children were squeezed owing to stagnation of crowd for a long time in the mandapam.
With VIPs occupying the main mandapam and no alternative exit, the pressure of crowd was huge. One woman had breathing problem.
Pilgrims barged into the mandapam, crushing women and children, owing to sudden opening of VIP visitor gates. The agony was not restricted to pilgrims inside the temple but those waiting outside also.
People were waiting under a scorching sun outside the temple for hours. Not even a thatched shelter was provided on the temple campus. A small shelter outside the VIP gate did not cover one tenth of queue.
Safety of pilgrims was last in programme agenda.
Only solace was that sufficient force was deployed near temple tank preventing people from entering it.