Kumbabhishekam performed for the 56-foot tall gold-plated structure

The temple city of Madurai witnessed a major religious event on Wednesday as the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple here got a new flag mast (called kodi maram in Tamil) after a gap of 150 years.

In the presence of thousands of devotees who turned up to witness the sacred ceremony, temple priests performed kumbabhishekam at around 5.45 a.m. for the 56-feet tall flag mast made of high quality teakwood and covered with gold plating.

Supported by the State Government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department and with the contributions from donors, the temple management took steps to replace the old flag mast which lost its strength over the years.

Temple sources told The Hindu that a long search operation had to be undertaken to identify the right teakwood suitable for carving the flag mast for the temple. Under the guidance of ‘stapathis’ and engineers, the kodi maram was installed near the Swami Sannidhi.

K. Meenakshisundaram, a devotee who contributed money to get teakwood and copper for the new flag mast, says that it took several months to zero in on the right teakwood tree because the flag mast has to come from a single tree only.

After intensive search, the temple authorities could find the right teakwood at Puliarai forest area near Courtallam in Tirunelveli district. “We found the Kollam teak tree (Kerala teak) near Courtallam,” he said. Permission was obtained from the Forest Department to collect the teakwood for temple purpose.

After bringing it to Madurai a few weeks back, it was put in a water tank for about one month, after which it was dried to make it a seasoned mast. The entire Kumbhabhishekam consecration was done as per Saiva Agama Shastras.

P. Jayaraman, Joint Commissioner and Executive Officer of Meenakshi Temple said that 11 kg of gold was used to do the plating work on the flag mast which was installed in the temple premises on June 12.

After that, the gold plating work was taken up. kumbhabhisekhamyagasala poojahomam

In connection with the important ceremony in Madurai, the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa sent a message to the temple management: “Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is famous worldwide and is an important place for Shaivites. It is a belief that if we pray at the kodi maram, it is equal to praying to all Gods and Goddesses in the temple. I am happy with the replacement,” she said.

Senthur Pandian, HR and CE Minister, R. Kannan, HR and CE department secretary, P. Dhanapal, commissioner and Karumuttu T. Kannan, Temple Committee Chairman, were among those who attended the kumbhabheshekam. Madurai Corporation Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa and District Collector L.Subramanian also took part in the ceremony.

Temple historian and former Principal of Thiagarajar College, M. Arunagiri, said that the general belief is that the installation of flag mast staff after such a long period is seen as a good omen for Madurai.

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