An octogenarian, who is an expert in religious discourse, was shocked to learn that the emerald was missing. N. Sundararaman (81) spent his childhood near the chathiram as he lived close by. “I saw the green lingam in the 1950s in the puja room there. We were not aware of its importance, but a puja was conducted every day,” he says.

At that time, the Kunnathur Chathiram was a busy place as people who came to the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple would also visit the chathiram for the free food offered as prasadam. “I have seen many religious functions, ayush homams and social activities there. The emerald lingam was an attraction,” Mr. Sundararaman recalled.

A retired State government official said that in 2006 the then Collector T.Udayachandran had convened a meeting to discuss the dilapidated condition of the Kunnathur Chathiram building. “I had attended the meeting and the discussion was only about rehabilitating the local shopkeepers in the Pudumandapam area. Since it was a private building, there was no reference to the valuables or other inventory inside the building,” the retired official said.

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