CHENNAI: The majestic 10 feet long idol of Lord Athi Varadhar, made out of the fig tree, that has been placed beneath water in a mandapam of the tank of Sri Varadharaja Perumal temple, Kancheepuram, was raised (out of the water) amidst chants of 'Varadha, Varadha' by the priests in the wee hours of Friday and placed in the temple's Vasantha mandapam for darshan during the Athi Varadhar awakening event, which is being held after 40 years.
The divine work to retrieve the Lord's idol, which has close semblances to the stone idol of the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum, commenced a few minutes past midnight and after descending a flight of steps, the temple priests brought out the idol at 3.15 am.
About 70 to 80 archakas (priests) Thathachariars (followers of Sri Ramanuja and Swamy Vedanta Desika) besides 40 Sripadathangis were involved in bringing out the idol and carrying it in a procession to the Vasantha mandapam.
“The Lord's image looked magnificent. It was intact all these years. The priests chanted Swasti Vachan mantras as the Lord was brought out. Since Athi Varadhar was inside water all these years, He will be readied before darshan for devotees from July 1,” says Elankadu Ranganathan of Kancheepuram.
The decked up image would be kept in reclining posture to facilitate the devotees to offer worship and on the last eight days the Lord will be kept in standing posture, he says.
According to the centuries old Sri Satyapoorna Math at Chinna Kancheepuram or Vishnu Kanchi, situated close to the famous Sri Varadharajar temple, Athi Varadhar is one among the 4 Brahma Kararchita Varadhaja moorthis, carved out of Athi tree by Vishwakarma in Kritha Yuga.
This idol was the main deity in the Grabhagraha until early 16th century. Due to Muslim invasions, Athi Varada was immersed inside Pushkarani (Anatha Saravora) inside the temple premises, to preserve the valuable idol.
The temple did not have an idol for nearly 40 years, and unable to trace the original idol, the authorities made a stone image of Athi Varadhar and thereafter resumed the regular pooja.
Around 1709 due to some reasons the temple tank was emptied and the Athi Varadhar was noticed lying inside.
Then the authorities decided that this idol has to be taken out every 40 years for pooja for 48 days and again be immersed in the temple tank for another 40 years.
“The Athi Varadhar awakening was initially held twice with a gap of one hundred years, later it was reduced to 80 years, then 60 and now to 40 years, so that the younger generation could witness the grand event and carry on the rich legacy,” says Ranganathan.
Devotees will be allowed for darshan from July 1 for 48 days daily from 5 am to 5 pm and up to 8 pm on special days. Free entry apart, arrangement has been made for devotees to purchase Rs 50 entry ticket. Special darshan of `500 could be made online through the website: www.tnhrc.org.
The previous occasion on which He came out for darshan was on July 2, 1979, and prior to it on July 12, 1939. As this being a major event, the Kancheepuram district administration, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department and the temple authorities, anticipating over one lakh devotees every day, have made elaborate arrangements to ensure hassle-free darshan for them.
The temple's eastern entrance will be kept open for the occasion....