Buddhist, Jain idols in Perambalur left to the elements, history enthusiasts demand action

Mahatma Selvapandiyan, a research scholar from Perambalur, told TNIE, "The sites of these statues may have been trading towns.
Buddhist and Jain Tirthankara idols in Perambalur district
Buddhist and Jain Tirthankara idols in Perambalur district

PERAMBALUR: History enthusiasts alongside local residents have demanded that the Buddhist and Jain Tirthankara idols in Perambalur district, which lie in a state of neglect, be sheltered by constructing sheds for them.

Buddhist and Jain Tirthankara sculptures dating back to the 10th-13th century are often found along trade routes across Tamil Nadu, pointing to possible trading activity by Buddhists and Jains during the period.

The Buddhist idols can be found at the Paravai, Ogalur, and Valikandapuram areas of the district and the Jain Tirthankara idols can be found at Perumathur, Pennakonam, Kottarai and Periyammapalayam. People in the respective villages worship the idols and garland them during festivals.

Mahatma Selvapandiyan, a research scholar from Perambalur, told TNIE, "The sites of these statues may have been trading towns. 'Paravai Nangai' was a close friend of Rajendra Chola, and Paravai village may have been named after her. Ogalur was called Oogalur during the Chola period.

Similarly, Pennakonam village was known as Perunerkundram and Valikandapuram was the commercial capital." But being at the mercy of the rain and sun, history enthusiasts have expressed concern that the idols could suffer damage.

The Buddha idol from Valikandapuram and the Jain Tirthankara idol from Periyammapalayam are currently missing, while the Tirthankara idol at Kottarai was moved to the government museum in Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

Despite several petitions filed with the district collector urging action, and officials giving word that they would visit the statues and arrange to promote them as tourist attractions, any such step is yet to be seen. "Two idols are already missing and some idols have been damaged by rain and sun. If the idols are vandalized or missing, history will be lost.

So the district administration should come forward to protect this by setting up big stages and sheds," said Selvapandiyan. D Rajendran, a resident of Paravai said, "The Buddha statue is our village deity. 40 years ago, a small stage was erected for the idol and village meetings were held in front of it, but now it is not enough. The statue is likely to be damaged if large vehicles come." When contacted, an official from the Perambalur district administration said, "I will check and take steps on this."

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