THANJAVUR: Regarded as the Chola era’s architectural marvel, the Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur stands testimony to the unquantifiable amount of labour and artistry put forth by the subjects of the kingdom back in 1010 AD. Fondly called the “Big Temple” for its vast horizontal spread and vertical reach, it also holds the international tag of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So when the consecration of this 11th century Chola edifice took place after 23 years, it was a moment of awe that dazzled in its brilliance and strikingly graceful in all its regal splendour.
The presiding deities are Peruvudayar and Periyanayagi at the temple. Wednesday’s consecration had lakhs of devotees and tourists checking into the town from across the nation and other countries for a glimpse of the spectacle. Devotees trickled into the temple complex from 5.30 am to get a vantage spot to view the proceedings. Around 7.25 am, priests brought the pots containing water collected from the Cauvery, Ganges and Yamuna out of the yagasalai where prayers were conducted for five days. The procession reached the Raja Rajan Vayil Gopuram around 7.40 am.
Sivachariars took the pots through makeshift steps to the Vimanam (tower over sanctum) of the shrines of Peruvudayar, Periyanayagi, Chandeswarar, Varahi, Vinayakar, Murugan and atop the Raja Rajan Vayil and Keralanthakan Vayil towers. Musicians played Siva Vadhyam all along. Around 9.21 am, officials atop the tower waved green flags to the crowds gathered, signalling the beginning of the consecration.
Big Temple consecration turns into cultural extravaganza
Sprinklers were used to spray holy water from atop the 216 feet high vimanam
“It was quite some experience witnessing an event of this magnitude and such enthusiastic crowd. I was excited watching the rituals, music and emotions displayed. I did not know the consecration was to take place when we arrived, we are very glad we got an opportunity to participate in it,” said Steve who came with his kin from France on a sight seeing trip.
Ramesh K, who was inside the temple complex, lauded the administration for arrangements. “So many precautionary methods have been taken keeping in mind the 1997 accident. We are lucky to have watched it from close quarters.” Similarly, S Gopal expressed joy of watching the consecration that was performed after 23 years.
Actor Parthiban was also present at the event. He said his happiness doubled with Tamil finding a prominent place in the rituals. Elaborate arrangements had been made to spray holy water used for consecration through sprinklers which left devotees pleasantly surprised. These were used as water from the pots could not be sprinkled by hand from atop the 216 feet high vimanam. Free shuttle services ensured people reached bus stands without much hassle.