Kancheepuram: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday offered prayers to Lord Athi Varadar, a deity that is taken out from under the water in the Varadarajar temple tank here once in 40 years.
The President and his family were accorded temple honours when they reached here by helicopter, following his arrival in Chennai earlier. He was received by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K, Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. Governor Purohit and Revenue Minister RB Udayakumar accompanied President Kovind.
A detailed security ring was thrown around the temple town for the President's visit, adding several officers and security personnel in uniform and mufti to the already present huge police contingent handling the massive influx of devotees.
A grand occasion for believers, Lord Athi Varadar is brought out of the temple Pushkarani (tank) once in 40 years and the deity and His divine event draws lakhs of devotees. The idol is made of fig wood, which is called 'Atthi' in Tamil.
The deity was raised from the Pushkarani on June 27 and the darshan has been open for 48 days from that day, drawing millions of devotees from far and wide. They wait patiently in serpentine queues for hours to offer prayers to Lord Athi Varadar. The state government and the local administration have made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order, prevent crime and also ensure that the people coming from far places with large families were taken care of to the maximum possible.
During his tour of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh from July 12-15, the President is scheduled to participate in an official engagement at Chennai on Saturday.
He will visit the Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala-Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. Later, President Kovind will leave for Sriharikota to witness the launch of India's lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, on July 15.
— (With PTI inputs)...