Chennai: Special poojas were performed and thaila kappu adorned for Athi Varadar as the Almighty is all set to be taken to Anantha Saras temple tank later today, as the 48-day, once-in-a-40-year spectacle of Lord Athi Varadar festival at the Lord Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kancheepuram concludes.
HUMAN SEA IN KANCHI
More than five lakh devotees had darshan on the last day of darshan Friday that ended at 2 am today and spilled over to the wee hours of Saturday.
Official sources said more than five lakh devotees, braving steady drizzle, had darshan of the Lord Athi Varadar.
With the next festival slated only for 2059, the temple town saw unprecedented crowds on the last day.
The temple gates were closed at 9 am last night and all those who were in queue inside the temple were allowed darshan. The farewell aarthi for Athi Varadar was performed around 2 am after which darshan ended.
Today being the last day of the 48-day vaibhavam, no darshan was allowed as the temple priests performed special pujas, after which the idol would be kept in the Anantha Saras tank in the temple.
The entire process would take around two hours.
Totally, more than one crore people have had darshan of Athi Varadar in the last 47 days, with the crowd crossing more than three lakh in the last few days. People from every nook and corner of the country, even from abroad, have had darshan so far, with weekends drawing huge crowds. Sometimes, devotees waited in the queue for more than 10 to 12 hours to have darshan.
COLLECTOR SAYS THANKS
Kanchipuram Collector R Ponniah today said a total of 1.10 crore devotees had darshan of the deity. While thanking the police and other departments for the smooth conduct of the festival, he said on a daily basis, 25 tonnes of garbage was collected and they would be recycled.
He said Rs 7 crore was collected in hundis in the last 47 days.
Lord Athi Varadar offered darshan in reclining posture for a month till 31 July and from 1 August, He offered darshan in standing posture till early this morning.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami thanked the Revenue Department, police personnel and the district officials for successfully handling the 48-day event. In a statement, he thanked the officials who worked round-the-clock.
REWIND TO THE PAST
The abhaya hastham (hand that blesses devotees) had a gold kavacham with the letters maa su saha (meaning ‘Take refuge in me’ in Sanskrit), just like the main deity, Lord Varadaraja Perumal, in the temple has.
Ever since the festival began, the temple town remained a sea of humanity.
Even on working days, lakhs of devotees queued up to have a darshan of Athi VardaR as the State government and Southern Railway operated special buses and trains right through the festival period.
The idol was brought out from the temple tank early 28 June and after pujas was kept at the Vasantha Mandapam for devotees to offer worship.
The 2.5-m-tall idol is said to be an exact replica of the presiding deity in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
The well-renowned Varadaraja Perumal Temple, which was otherwise called as Hastagiri or Athiyuran, was considered to be one among the important temples of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Several Alwars (Vaishanava saints) have sung hymns glorifying the Lord of the temple.
The temple tank – Anantha Saras – located on the north side of 100-pillar hall, consists of two mandapams.
The idol of Lord Athi Varadar, made of athi (fig) wood, would be immersed in the water on the south side mandapam of the Anantha Saras tank in reclining posture.
The idol of Lord Athi Varadar is taken out every 40 years for worship. The last time it happened was in July 1979.