Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy, Rajini offer prayers to Lord Athi Varadar

Kancheepuram: Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Deve Gowda on Wednesday offered prayers to Lord Athi Varadar here, with two days to go for the culmination of the festival that is held once in 40 years.

Along with Gowda, his son and former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy visited the Devaraja Swamy Temple and sat in front of the deity in the Vasantha Mandapam and offered prayers.

They were given a warm welcome by priests, temple officials and the district Collector P Ponniah. On Tuesday night, Tamil film superstar Rajinikanth, along with his family, offered prayers to Athi Varadar. Rajinikanth and his wife Latha were received by the priests and the couple presented ‘vastra‘ (cloth) to the deity and prayed.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters, Kancheepuram Collector Ponniah said as was already announced VIP/VVIP darshan on 16 and 17 August would not take place. “From the evening of August 16, darshan will come to a close to the public. Athi Varadar will be placed in the Anantasaras temple tank of Devarajaswamy temple on August 17,” he said.

The Lord Athi Varadar festival is on in Kancheepuram since 1 July and is slated to culminate on 16 August. The deity made of fig wood is taken out of the temple once in 40 years and kept for worship by devotees.

Over 80 lakh devotees and a host of leaders, including President Ram Nath Kovind and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, have so far offered prayers to the deity.