Temple administration announces a ‘Nilai Teppam’

The efforts of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department, Madurai Corporation and Public Works Department to fill water in the Mariamman temple tank for the float festival ended in vain and the temple administration has announced a ‘Nilai Teppam’ (static float) this year.

Every year, devotees gather around the tank to pull the float around the ‘Vasantha Mandapam’.

This year, they will not be able to do so as ‘Nilai Teppam’ signifies that the float containing the idols of Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi would be kept stationary in the tank.

The float festival has been scheduled for January 27. Every year water from river Vaigai is pumped into the tank for the float festival. This year the river is dry. Officials tried pumping water from Manalur pumping station, which is around 16 km away from the tank.

A trial operation was conducted on December 17, 2012 and a number of leaks were detected along the pipeline. After the leaks were plugged, water from Manalur pumping station was pumped into the tank using 250 KV motors.

However, even after 25 days of pumping water there has been no increase in the water level in the tank, the officials said. “We tried to raise the water level to four feet so that the float containing the deities would float. But the water level is barely up by two feet. The surface of the tank is uneven and the water level is not even a foot in some places”, said P. Jayaraman, Joint Commissioner of HR and CE department. A ‘Nilai Teppam’ will be seen in Madurai after nearly 50 years, he pointed out.

The decision to go for ‘Nilai Teppam’ was taken at a meeting conducted by the temple administration on Sunday. The process of erecting the huge float is in progress. The dearth of water this year has prompted the officials to look for long-term plans to overcome the water scarcity in the future. “Had there been rain this year, then percolation of water in the tank would have reduced and the water level would have risen”, said an official. “In future, the issue will be resolved as we have now identified an alternative source of water in Manalur. We will start the pumping process much in advance if there is no water in the Vaigai next year”, he assured the public.

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