CHENNAI: Talks are on with the Bhattacharyas at the Sri Devaraja Swamy temple in Kancheepuram to shift the idol of Athi Varadar from Vasantha Mandapam to a more spacious place within the temple so as to ensure hassle-free darshan for devotees, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said.
The CM held a high-level meeting to review the arrangements for the Athi Varadar festival, at the Secretariat on Saturday along with Ministers, Chief Secretary, DGP and department secretaries. “It was decided to improve the amenities for the benefit of devotees visiting the temple,” the Chief Minister said. Speaking to reporters in Salem on Sunday he said talks were on with the temple priests to shift the Lord’s idol to a more spacious place within the temple so that the devotees could have darshan comfortably and in a peaceful manner.
Talks are also on with the HR & CE officials to increase the darshan timing by an hour, by commencing the darshan from 4 am, said Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam, who along with DGP J.K. Tripathy made a late night visit on Saturday to study the situation and apprise the government about the ground realities, following a direction from Mr. Palaniswami.
Speaking to reporters after the review, Mr. Shanmugam said the officials have been told to improve the infrastructure, especially provide more toilets, drinking water facility besides install fans and LED TVs in waiting sheds. “Also the officials have been told to provide benches and chairs wherever possible to enable the devotees to rest briefly. The DGP and IG have been asked to
provide additional volunteers from the Home Guards to regulate the crowd,” the Chief Secretary said.
Vantage locations have been identified to prevent stampede and appropriate steps would be taken to regulate the crowd. “The officials have also been asked to ensure fire safety measures and to inspect the equipment daily. Also, ORS or fruit juice would be given to devotees who feel exhausted while exiting after darshan,” he said. Increasing the number of wheelchairs for senior citizens and disabled to 1,500 from the present 800 and doubling the conservancy workers from 600 and ensuing the VIP darshan and public darshan don’t get affected, were among the numerous suggestions.
The CM has appointed two special officers: Bhaskaran, director of Rural Development Agency, and Shankara Subbian, former Thanjavur collector, who has rich experience in organising the Mahamaham, to assist the Kancheepuram district collector K. Ponniah. Also, Mr. Palaniswami had directed the department secretaries, concerned, to undertake inspections twice a day and make sure no hardship was caused to the devotees. “I am sure with the new arrangements, darshan will be more tranquil. We are keen on ensuring the safety, security and happiness of the devotees,” the Chief Secretary added.
“All of us will put our best efforts to provide a good darshan for the devotees during this festival happening once in 40 years,” said DGP Tripathy and added that about 5,000 policemen have been deployed to regulate the devotees. “Volunteers are welcome,” he said.
According to sources, from July 1 till Saturday, a total of 28.25 lakh devotees have visited and had darshan of Athi Varadar. On Sunday more than a lakh had darshan of the Lord....