History & Culture

Renovation — a slow process

The first phase is complete at Sonna Vannam Seidha Perumal Temple. More await action

It has been a hard grind as far as renovation work is concerned for several Divya Desams in Kanchipuram. Many of the temples have found it difficult to even start the repair works for want of funds. As written about earlier in these columns, a system has been put in place for temple renovations. Approval from the court, directed screening committee, has to be obtained before work can commence. In this context, a look at least three ancient Vishnu temples of Kanchipuram would be appropriate.

At Sonna Vannam Seidha Perumal temple in Thiru Vekka, where work has been under way for the past eight months, first phase is complete and the samprokshanam of the Divyadesam took place on March 17.

The divyadesam, praised by Nammazhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Poigai Azhwar, Peyazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar, was lying in a derelict condition.

During the recent Monsoon, water leaked inside the temple complex. To prevent further seepage, the roof of the Perumal sannidhi complex was completely revamped. This has been the major work that the temple has seen as part of the current renovation efforts. A new electrification system with LED lights, installed to illuminate the pathway around the prakaram, and the refurbished mounts of the Lord, ready for use during the Brahmotsvam, this year are the other areas, covered in this phase, which cost ₹50 lakhs. The cost was met by donors.

Renovation — a slow process

Work in the second phase

The second phase will include the revamp of the temple tank — Poigai Kulam — that has been lying in a state of disrepair; reconstructing the neerazhi mandapam in the middle of the tank that had fallen apart and raising a new compound wall around the temple tank. The estimate for the tank is around ₹50 lakhs.

Renovation — a slow process

There are other temples in Kanchipuram that are due for a facelift. It has been 30 years since the last Samprokshanam was performed at Pandava Dhoothar Divya Desam in Thiru Paadagam, a temple praised by four Azhwars. The previous large scale renovation of the temple, which spanned five years from 1984, was undertaken with full financial support from the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam.

But now the temple lies in a state of neglect with a faded rajagopuram; shrubs atop the Perumal vimanam and an unkempt temple tank that needs to be spruced up. The repair work also includes repairing the flooring in the entire complex and strengthening the outer wall of the temple complex. There is a need to repair the vahanams, which will be used to carry the deity during Brahmotsavam, which has not taken place in three decades. The temple committee is looking out for donors, who can fund the entire renovation work. Those interested could contact 044-2723 1899.

Renovation — a slow process

The other temple that needs a facelift is the Pavala Vannan Divyadesam, praised by Thirumangai Azhwar in his Thiru Nedunthaandagam, which is a few kilometres from the Pandava Dhoothar Divyadesam. It is disheartening to see the temple tank filled with debris, the faded Rajagopuram and vimanams that have not been painted for several decades and the madapalli (temple kitchen) that is in a bad shape. Brahmotsavam has not taken place for over five decades at this temple.

At the Pachai Vannan temple, half a km from this Divyadesam, the multiple shops that have sprung up in recent times serve as the outer wall of the temple. A battle is on between the trustee and the HR & CE Department, with each trying to bring the two temples under their control citing mismanagement as the reason. It is sad to note that any renovation work is unlikely until the dispute is settled.


Panguni Brahmotsavam starts March 28, Garuda Sevai at 6 a.m. on March 30, Chariot Festival on April 3

Thai Magam Utsavam — The Lord makes a trip to Palar and the neighbouring villages

Highlights of the Renovation

The Rs. 50 lakh-renovation took eight months

12,000 tiles were used for complete roofing work atop the Perumal Sannidhi complex

The Mandapam inside the tank is rebuilt. The tank to be spruced up in the next six months

Newly painted Raja Gopuram at the Western Entrance

Features of the Divya Desam

Birth place of Poigai Azhwar

The deity is in ‘Maaru Sayanam’

Five Azhwars have praised the Lord

The deity obeyed His devotee

Renovation — a slow process

Thirumazhisai Azhwar came along with his disciple Kanikannan to Thiru Vekka to serve Lord Yathothagaari. When the king ordered to send Kanikannan out of the kingdom for failing to sing praise of him, Thirumazhisai Azhwar too followed suit taking along with him the Lord of Thiru Vekka plunging the whole place into darkness. Realising his folly, the king apologised and requested them to return to Kanchi. As an indication of his departure from the temple and his subsequent return, the Lord is said to have slept in the opposite direction. This Maaru Sayanam of the Lord, sleeping in the South to North direction, is a special feature of this Divyadesam.

As the Lord acceded to the request of Thirumazhisai Azhwar, he came to be called as ‘Sonna Vannam Seitha Perumal.’

This episode of the Lord leaving the temple along with Thirumazhisai Azhwar is enacted every year on the Thai Magam day on the occasion of Thirumazhisai Azhwar’s birthday with a trip to the Palar. Later in the day, the garland worn by Thirumazhisai Azhwar at Thiru Vekka is sent to his avathara sthalam at Thirumazhisai for the evening festivities at the Jagannatha Perumal temple there. The temple is open between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:42:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/thiru-vekka-divyadesam-regaining-the-lost-glory/article26598660.ece

Next Story