The renovated wooden chariot of Chathapuram Prasanna Maha Ganapathy Temple, one of the four organisers of the famed Kalpathy Ratholsavam, will have its first trial run (vellottam) on Sunday evening. The 40-tonne chariot has undergone a major overhaul, and its launch will take place in a festive ambience with special pujas.
“We have undertaken a major overhaul of our chariot after 37 years. We will be having a curtain-raiser ceremony when we take the chariot from the workshop to the temple on Friday afternoon,” said C.V. Murali, secretary of the Chathapuram Prasanna Maha Ganapathy Temple.
After special pujas on Friday and Saturday, the chariot will have its maiden run through the four villages of Kalpathy on Sunday evening. Although it will be decorated with flowers, it will not carry the deity Ganapathy. Sreekant Bhatacharyar will lead the rath puja rites.
The four wheels and their axles were replaced as part of the renovation. “Change of wheels and axles itself was a major thing. Besides, we have replaced several carvings. The wooden frames on top of the car and the ropes were all replaced. The chariot is as good as new,” said Mr. Murali.
As many as 10 carpenters from Perambalur in Tamil Nadu under the supervision of Manikandan Satpathy worked for seven months to overhaul the chariot. They used such timber as Indian kino (venga), Indian laurel (karimaruthu), Mahua (ilippa), East India walnut (karivaka), and teak for the renovation.
“We have retained wood for the axle and wheels of the chariot to preserve its originality and legacy,” said Mr. Murali. Some other chariots in Kalpathy had converted their wheels into iron to minimize wear and tear.
Mr. Murali said that it cost them ₹53 lakh to renovate the chariot. Although they had sought the support of several groups, including the District Tourism Promotion Council, none lent a helping hand, said one of the organisers.
Although the flag of the Kalpathy Ratholsavam will be hoisted on November 8, the chariots will roll along the villages on November 14, 15 and 16 carrying their respective deities. There will be a total of six chariots, including that of the Chathapuram temple.
While the three chariots of the main Visalakshi Sametha Viswanatha Swami Temple will visit the agraharams of the four villages on all three days with deities of Siva, Ganapathy and Murugan on them, the chariot of Chathapuram Prasanna Maha Ganapathy Temple will carry its deity to the villages only on November 16.
Mr. Murali said that special pujas had been performed at Mayapuram and Thanjavur temples in Tamil Nadu, the place of origin of the Tamil Brahmins in Kalpathy and other agrharams in Palakkad. He said Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi too had sent his blessings for the festival.