The Swarna Moortheeswarar Temple, a 350-year-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Kandadevi village, witnessed the long-awaited revival of its chariot after 17 years on Sunday.
The grand procession commenced at 6:10 AM and the day began with a special yagya at 3:30 AM, followed by intricate pujas, setting the spiritual tone for the event.
Over 2,000 policemen were deployed to ensure the security of the proceedings.
The public is not allowed to pull the chariot by rope. Workers from the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE), which manages and controls the temple administration in the state, pulled the chariot by the rope.
Previously marred by controversies surrounding the denial of rights to Scheduled Caste (SC) individuals in pulling the chariot, the Madras High Court addressed the matter on November 3. The court deliberated whether Central forces should be deployed to ensure the festival’s smooth conduct.
District Collector Asha Ajith presided over the meeting. District SP Arvind and revenue officials, and Rani Mathuranthangi of Sivaganga Samasthanam and other stakeholders were present and in response, a decision was reached that representatives from the Sivaganga Samasthanam and Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department employees would jointly pull the chariot during the trial run.
Official sources said that the trial run gained unanimous support from representatives of the Nattars group and Scheduled Castes, highlighting a collaborative effort to restore the festival’s glory.
Situated in the Sivagangai district, the Shree Swarnamurtheeswarar temple was a prominent religious centre during the reign of kings, serving around 170 villages. The temple procession, held in the Tamil month of Ani, attracts a multitude of devotees.
The temple’s architecture is Chettinadu style, with modern and elegant features that are influenced by Nagarathar. The temple is associated with events from the Indian epic Ramayana and has historical and religious significance.
The chariot festival, discontinued in 1998 due to factional disputes, resumed from 2002 to 2006 under heightened security. A hiatus followed for four years due to the temple’s consecration ceremony, and subsequent attempts to resume the chariot procession faced hindrances. Legal proceedings led to the order for a chariot trial run, marking a significant step towards the revival of this cherished tradition.
In the past five years, various reasons have hindered the chariot festival, despite efforts to organize it. The culmination of repairs to the chariot, costing several lakhs, paved the way for its return, breathing new life into the cultural and religious heritage of the region.
With the successful trial run, hopes are high for the resumption of the Chariot festival. (ANI)