Hundreds of devotees participated with fervour in the sacred chariot festival of Brihadeeswarar Temple (Big Temple) in Thanjavur on Thursday.
Held as part of the annual Chithirai Brahmotsavam, the colourful festivities began at dawn with the processional deities of Big Temple, Tyagarajar and Kamalambal, arriving at the Chariot Mandapam on West Main Street. Special abishekam was performed to the deities.
Simutaneously, Vinayakar, Subramanya Swami, Neelotpalambal and Chandikeswarar deities arrived at the chariot base. After special poojas, the chariot run began with the deities ensconced at their assigned sacred cars.
Agriculture Minister R. Duraikannu, District Collector A. Annadurai, Superintendent of Police T. Senthil Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP and former Minister R. Vaithilingam, Joint Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Thennarasu, former Mayor Savithri Gopal were among those who participated in the chariot festival and drew the car.
The chariot run, which began on West Main Street, went round the four main streets of the ancient city. It halted at six spots for special pujas before returning to the base mandapam. With the sun beating down the heads of the devotees, several organisations and philanthropists offered buttermilk, panagam (jaggery drink), cool drinks and Pongal to those drawing the temple car.
ISCKON members performed bhajans as they walked before the chariot, while Sivanadiyar Thirukkoottam members played sacred instruments. A local holiday had been declared for the district to enable the people to participate in the momentous festival.
The Chithrai Brahmotsavam, which began on April 12, would wind up with Teerthavari and Dwaja Avarohanam on Sunday.