Kancheepuram: The Divine Lord emerges from his watery bed once in 40 years and that would mean a devotee can worship Him only thrice in his entire life, at the most. That explains the massive surge of people coming into the temple town of Kancheepuram from all directions for the darshan of Athi Varadar in the Varadaraja Perumal temple; but woefully, the arrangements by the district administration and the HR&CE department to handle such crowds have been far from satisfactory, lament the devotees.
Some of them have posted their bitter experiences on the social media. One woman bitterly complained about the lack of water, toilet and shelter from sun for the thousands of people who kept flowing into the temple area.
"We had to walk a couple of kms from the parking area to reach the tail of the long-long queue. We got exhausted and dehydrated by the time we were close enough to sight the entry of the temple. We had already spent three hours in the slow-moving queue and we realised it would take another at least three hours to reach the Lord. We decided to step out of the queue and head back home", said the distraught woman, who said her aged parents and young children could not handle the strain.
On Saturday, an estimated two lakh devotees filled the queues to worship the deity. That was because of the weekend holiday and besides, the darshan time was shortened the previous day for the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind and entourage-which included his family, Governor Banwarilal Purohit and state minister R B Udayakumar.
"Also, Saturday is a special day for Perumal", said a devotee, happy to have worshipped the Lord after all those stressful hours in the serpentine queue.
"The queue could have been ten km long and it took us five hours to complete the darshan of a few seconds", said the devotee from distant Thanjavur.
In his group was an elder member, a retired government official, who was quick to add: "Athi Varadar is very special as he is brought out of the temple tank once in 40 years. The government should have taken proper steps to not only regulate the crowd in better manner but also provide them the basic facilities of safe water and toilets. I almost fainted", he said, before adding with a sense of pride: "The Mahamaham at Kumbakonam happens once in 12 years and yet we have far better arrangements there. Not like this. It is obvious there is no coordination between the district administration and the temple administrators in the HR&CE department"."They said there would be a battery vehicle to transport the elders and physically disabled people for the darshan and back to their parking places, but we spotted no such battery car", said another devotee. The lady from Triplicane in Chennai said she was still "very happy, almost in tears, that I fulfilled my dream of worshipping Athivaradar" despite the huge struggle in the long queue and before that, the long and painful walk on sharp pebbles from the parking area.