Tamil Nadu

Kanchi Athi Varadar festival begins today

A rare opportunity: Devotees waiting for free passes issued by temple authorities to have darshan of Athi Varadar in Kancheepuram on Sunday.

A rare opportunity: Devotees waiting for free passes issued by temple authorities to have darshan of Athi Varadar in Kancheepuram on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: S_R_Raghunathan

Idol taken out of pond once in 40 years

“The temple has been spruced up on account of the festival. The last time, in 1979, we were able to see the idol many times since there were no takers for the tokens. But this time, it’s completely different. People have come in from many States, even as far as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Even the information boards placed for the festival have Kannada, Telugu, Hindi and English script along with Tamil,” said M. Chandrasekar (90), a resident of Gopalaswamipettai.

His friend M. Panneerselvam from Dimmarajapettai, who was 11 years old in 1979 when the idol was brought out, said the huge turnout was due to information being sent over social media like WhatsApp .

“We only had radio announcements earlier. Bus fares were 10 paise and the pandal too was quite small,” he recalled.

Entry to the Vasantha Mandapam is through the east and west gopurams. People seeking free darshan and in ₹50 queue must go to the east end, while the west gopuram will be for VIPs and for those with ₹500 ticket for the Sahasranamam archana. A total of 150 wheelchairs and around 10 battery-operated cars have been arranged. The police have installed two baggage scanners at the entrances and 2,600 police personnel will be on duty.

Speaking about the significance of the festival, Vaishnavite scholar Akkaarkkani T.A. Srinidhi said no one knows why the idol was being brought out once in 40 years or why it is placed for public darshan for 48 days.

“There are many theories, the primary one being that it is the belief of thousands of devotees that the Lord with the Abhaya Hastam will bless them. Some say that the idol was placed in water after it appeared in the dream of a temple priest and [The Lord] asked that he be placed in the tank. While there is another theory that it was an idol made during Balalayam (temple renovation) and later placed under water,” he said.

No archanas or abhishekam would be performed for the idol during his stay on the land. But floral offerings of devotees would be accepted by priests and neivedhyams would be offered to the idol.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:29:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/kanchi-athi-varadar-festival-begins-today/article28236905.ece

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