Devotees continue to visit Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple here to witness the grand ‘golu’, with the theme ‘Sarvam Bakthi Mayam’, arranged as part of the Navarathri celebrations. Three working replicas of the temple and the Mariamman Teppakulam on display alongside the main arrangements have, in particular, caught the attention of the public.
While one replica of Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple has a miniature version of the golden car circling it, another replica of the temple on display has miniature versions of different ‘Vaahanams’ (vehicles), including the Rishaba Vaahanam and the Garuda Vaahanam, taken out in procession during the Chithirai festival.
A replica of the Mariamman Teppakulam (temple tank) placed between the models of the temples has a miniature version of the ‘Teppam’ (floats carrying the idols of the temple deities) in constant motion.
“The models have come together due to a combination of artwork and engineering,” said artisan K.S. Balumani from Pudukottai, who has made the models. “A special electric motor has been designed and fitted under each model, which enables the constant movement of the float, the car and the vaahanams,” he explained.
Aided by a team of six craftsmen, most of them his students, Mr.Balumani said the idol replicas were made of Thermocol, a material seldom used to make replicas which required intricate work.
“We, however, fashioned our knives and blades to suit the work involved. We painted the replicas with basic water colours,” he said.
Speaking about the need to maintain factual accuracy, he said, “There are two separate replicas of the temple, as the golden car and the different Vaahanaams are not taken out in procession at the same time. We wanted to replicate the real processions to the people who visit the temple.”
Mr. Balumani has also made replicas of the famous temples of Thirukadaiyur, Maangadu, Tiruchendur and Thiruvannamalai using ‘sadai’ or pith, which have been displayed at the respective temples. The replica of the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, which has been on display at the temple since 1984, was also made by him.
Talking about the replicas, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Joint Commissioner P. Jayaraman said the making of the models took almost 22 days. “A working model had been kept on display last year. Following the positive response we got, we commissioned these models to be kept on display alongside the ‘golu’ this year,” he said.