NAGAPATTINAM: News of discovery of idols which were stolen from a temple at Anandamangalam near Mayiladuthurai 42 years ago, left residents of the village ecstatic. But it is unlikely that the idols would be returned to the temple anytime soon.
An official in HR&CE department in the district said, “We are yet to receive official communication if the idols would be brought back here. But, all of us are looking forward to see the idols back in Anandamangalam”. Idols of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, and Goddess Sita stolen from the Sri Rajagopalanathaswamy Temple in Anandamangalam were found in London earlier this week. “We were teens when we last saw the idols.
We want those idols back along with the idol of Hanuman back in the temple,” said MR Kannan, a 59-year-old farmer in Anandamangalam The temple is 500-years-old, dating to Vijayanagara Period. The temple is more famous for its Hanuman shrine and is known as Anandamangalam Anuman Koil. The panchaloha utsavar idols were stolen in November 1978.
Police registered a case and declared the idols untraceable for want of significant leads. The suspects who allegedly stole the idols were subsequently arrested but the idols could not be traced Priests who worked in the temple either passed away or moved out of the village. The officials in HR&CE department said they lost several records of the idols to natural calamities.
A few days ago, a community of volunteers who work closely with the idol wing of Tamil Nadu Police and London’s Metropolitan Police discovered that the idols are with a London-based Art Collector. The Art Collector handed over the idols to Indian High Commission on Tuesday.
“It is not that we had given up on the idols, we pressed so much for their recovery. Thankfully, the idols have been found now, “ said P Balaji, a BJP functionary in Anandamangalam. A priest added, “We do not know or have seen the idols like the locals. But, we are also glad about the news and will be able to perform what we missed these years.”