The bejewelled images of Lord Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal were taken on a well decorated raft.
Float festivals (teppam) are a common feature in many temples but the one at Kapaleeswarar temple is associated with piety and opulence. The festival has a special mention in Sambandar’s Thevaram in connection with the Poompavai episode. The saint sings “O Poompavai why did you leave without seeing the annual float festival of Mylai?.”
People gather in large numbers to witness the picturesque festival, which is part of the Thaipoosam celebrations held on the night of the full moon between mid-January and February.
The busy R.K. Mutt Road was thus even more crowded during the 3-day festival (Jan. 26-28). The event is all about taking the bejewelled images of Lord Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal on a well decorated raft, with fresh flowers and flickering lamps, on the placid waters of the tank which occupies an area of 2, 66, 000 sq ft.
Not only the raft, the temple tower and the walls around the tank were also illuminated with strings of electric bulbs. The colours that emanated from these not only reflected brightly in the water but also added a bright glow to the sculpted structures on the gopurams. By 6 p.m. the idols were carried out of the temple and after a procession around the Mada streets, the idols were placed on the float that was embellished with flowers, lanterns, silken buntings, flickering lamps and fluorescent tubes.
By 7 p.m. the float began its journey around the Neerazhimandapam, at the centre of the tank. Men, who pulled the float with big ropes ran around the tank steps, cheered by the crowd all the time. Devotees had a darshan of the deities (decorated with flower garlands, cardamom garlands), within the pillars of the float, decorated with artifacts of yali, elephants, peacocks and horses.
On the first day, Lord Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal were taken around. On the second and third day, it was Singaravelan and his consorts. At a steady pace it completed its rounds – (5 on day one, 7 second day and 9 on third day) in the tank. With each round lasting for about 20 minutes, the fest came to an end only after 10 p.m. on the last day.
There was policing and Corporation also had taken efforts to maintain the roads clean and fire tenders were stationed at strategic places.
“As per the safety norms certified by the PWD, not more than 30 persons were allowed on the raft. Local volunteers were also deployed to regulate the crowd and help the elderly. Professional divers and swimmers from the local fishing community were ready for any emergency as the tank is nearly 20 feet deep,” said Ms. Cauvery, DC, HR & CE. Some of the dignitaries who graced the occasion were M.S.M. Anandan, Minister, HR & CE; prof. Rajaram and P. Danapal, Commissioner, HR & CE.