Stolen antique idols retrieved from abroad to reach Tamil Nadu home

The idols, dated 10-12th century, have been retrieved from the US and Australia following government efforts
Image used for representational purpose. (File photo| EPS)
Image used for representational purpose. (File photo| EPS)

NEW DELHI: Ten antique idols, including bronze deities of Lord Natraja and Shiva-Parvati dated around 10-12th century, retrieved from the United States of America (US) and Australia following joint efforts of the ministries of culture and external affairs, will return to their home state —Tamil Nadu. During a ceremony in New Delhi likely to take place on June 1, the culture ministry will hand over the repatriated cultural heritage objects to the Tamil Nadu (TN) government.

With the event, the process to give antiquities recovered from foreign countries back to the states — Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh from where they were stolen decades ago —will start, as promised by the ministry. The Centre brought back 186 artefacts — mainly idols — between October 2021 and March 2020 from the US, Australia and Canada. These articles were stolen and smuggled out of the country over a period of time.

The officials said that handover would take place at the National Gallery of Modern Art, in which the Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy will return the antiquities to the state government in the presence of TN ministers, senior officials of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and the state government.

However, the event will not be grand like the previous one in November, when an 18th century idol of Goddess Annapurna was given to the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government. At that time, at least 10 union ministers and six UP ministers attended the event, and priests from four prominent temples in Delhi — Jhandewalan, Chattarpur, Kalkaji, and Chittaranjan Park performed rituals during the handover ceremony. The idol of Goddess Annapurna was installed at Kashi Vishwanath temple just before the state Assembly election in UP.

The collection of antiquities to be handed over to the TN government includes figurines named Dwarapala, Nataraja, Kankalamurti Kadayam, Nadikeswara Kadayam, Four-Armed Vishnu, Sri Devi, Siva & Parvati, Standing Child Sambandar, and Child Sambandar. “The states will decide how and where their retrieved articles are displayed in museums,” said officials.Reddy, earlier, told TNIE that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to return antiquities to the state,s and that unclaimed objects would be kept at the Gallery of Confiscated and Retrieved Antiquities in Purana Quila for public viewing.

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