Move to install larger idol at Mahankali temple sparks row
Deccan Chronicle.| Sanjay Samuel Paul
Two idols to be connected with a gold string, which is said to endow the new idol with the same powers as that of the original deity
Senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy at the Ujjaini Mahakali temple at Secunderabad, following reports that the management was all set to replace the idol of the Goddess. (Surender Reddy/DC)
HYDERABAD: The Ujjaini Mahankali temple in Secunderabad, home for the biggest Bonalu celebrations in the state, is planning to install a larger idol of the Goddess as the temple management believes that the existing idol is very small and cannot be seen easily by devotees who throng the temple during the annual festivities.
The Ujjaini Mahankali temple was established in 1815 by Suriti Appiah, who served in the British Army in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. He vowed that he would build a temple for Mahankali in his hometown of Hyderabad if the plague that was wreaking havoc at that time in Ujjain subsided. It was from Ujjain that Appiah brought to the city a nine-inch tall stone idol of the deity and installed it at what is now famously known as Ujjaini Mahankali temple.
With the idol being small, the temple management has put into motion the process to install a new 5-foot 4-inch tall idol of the deity to be placed in front of the original idol. The two are to be connected with a gold string, which, according to the temple authorities, endows the new idol with the same powers as that of the original deity.
Senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy, who rushed to the temple after learning about the plans, questioned the secrecy surrounding the exercise.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Shashidhar Reddy said, "This involves the faith of lakhs of devotees, generations of whom have been worshipping at this temple. The people believe that the power of this temple is derived from this deity. Now the management is installing a bigger idol in front of the main deity," he said. "This is something we never heard of being done in any other temple."
"We found a letter from the temple management to the commissioner of endowments saying that the founder family, trustees, the Pushpagiri Peetham’s swamiji and the Archakas of this temple have accepted this proposal," he added. "The letter," Shashidhar Reddy said, "also says that the move to install the new idol followed the instructions from minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav."
"I question the management and the executive officer on the need for such secrecy and the hurry to complete the process before the Bonalu Jatara in July," he said.
Gutta Manohar Reddy, the temple’s executive officer said, "We are going ahead after taking permission from the authorities concerned. The larger idol is for the benefit of devotees, who cannot view the idol during the Bonalu celebrations amidst the rush and from a distance, and also during normal times."