Chennai: The majestic vahanas which carry the presiding deities during celestial processions add grandeur to temple festivals. One such festival, Vaikasi Visaka Peruvizha, is being celebrated with religious fervor and fanfare at Gangadhareswarar temple, in Purasawalkam now (May 9-18).
The temple is believed to have been built by Kulothunga Chola (9th century). It is said the Chola king used to visit a nearby lake in Vepery (vep - neem, eri-lake; a lake surrounded by neem trees) and during one such sojourn, he came across the Lord's idol. Enthralled by the divinity he built a temple for Him.
According to a legend, King Bhageeratha is supposed to have done penance and worshipped Lord Shiva here to bring Ganga to Earth. So, the presiding deity bears the name Gangadhareswarar.
There are 10-12 magnificent vahanas in the temple of which Rishabha, Adikara Nandhi and Kailasa Ravana vahanas are considered special.
The vahanas are given a fresh coat of paint every year, besides repaired if needed. After the festival, the vahanas are cleaned properly, covered and kept in a closed shed safely.
“During this festival, every night, the vahanas leave a lasting impression on our family with their splendour. We await Kailasa Ravana vahana as it is unique and awesome,” says V. Balasubramanian, resident of Purasawalkam for decades....