| Newly decorated car of the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur,TN, April, 2015. www.thehindu.com|
|Big temple car trial, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. April 20th,2015 www.thehindu.com|
The vast inscriptions on the temple walls bring out details of temple administration - donations, duties of employees, rituals and festivals followed during the Chola period. According to the temple history, during the Chitrai Brahmotsavam on the 15th day of the celebrations, the chariot festival was conducted with great devotion and fanfare. As many as five chariots, on several occasions, were taken out along the streets during that period. For unknown reasons, coupled with changing political scenario, the chariot festival lost its significance.
In the later period, the Nayaks and the Maratha rulers, who were devout Hindus and patrons of the big temple, somehow, well managed the affairs of the big temple and its protocols governing poojas, festivals, etc.
It was Raja Serfoji II who had five new chariots made for the Big Temple festivals and built chariot Mandapams (halls) on the four main streets to park the chariots. Records point out that the last chariot festival of the Big Temple was held in 1818. After the Marathas, the big temple chariot festival and its great tradition became a thing of the past. The Car festival of the big temple was, unfortunately, stopped 100 years ago - during the British period because the temple car (in Tamil Ther) was damaged due to passage of time, poor maintenance and lack of adequate funds to repair it.
Thanks to the contributions from the Tamil Nadu government and the Thanjavur Palace Devasthanam, the great tradition of Big temple chariot festival was brought back to life. The new chariot has a height of 16 1/2 feet and weighs 40 tonnes with 231 wooden icons and 245 bell. The trial run was conducted on April 20, 2015.
More than 30 well trained sculptors worked hard around 15 plus long months to give shape to the chariot. Special woods were used to create delicate images of gods and goddesses in proper geometrical fashion. tradition has been that only eluppa maram (eluppa wood) is used for the construction of temple chariots, according to an old carpenter. Special care was taken to design and fix huge wheels to bear 40 plus ton weight for easy mobility and maneuverability. The chariot waa provided with a special break system to stop it in case of an emergency. The Tamil Nadu state government allotted special funds as far back as 2012 to restore the chariot festival that was stopped during the British period.
Yearly car festival is part of many well known temple rituals such as Srirangam, Thiruvarur, Madurai, Thiruvannamalai, etc in Tamil Nadu.
The chariot festival of the ancient Bragadeshwarar temple was held with great fanfare on Wednesday - 29th April, 2015 at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu after a gap of nearly 100 years. It was a great spectacle of a tall, big 45 ton temple car being pulled by hundreds of devotees around the main four Raja Veedhis (streets). The entire atmosphere was charged with devotion, religious fervor and bakthi.
It was a great honor to Chola King Raja Raja I and his dynasty, ardent and devout Hindus rulers and builders of great rock temples. It is a golden chapter in the long history of Thanjavur big temple.
Temple car festival in brief:
Above image: Thousands of devotees pulling the temple car of Sri Andal temple in Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu, August, 2013. the car festival had been taking place for more than 162 years; consecutively for the past 29 years since 1985.....
India is a land of numerous festivals, particularly, the Hindu festivals are numerous, and they signify offerings to deities, fasting, feasting, fairs and celebrations. Utsavam or Utsav in Sanskrit means removal of "worldly sorrows" or "grief.'' It is a great occasion for rejoice and often these festivals coincide with seasonal changes.
Almost all Hindu temples have some regular temple rituals and festivals unique to them and this age-old tradition is being followed even today. Car festival is part of temple rituals. Temple cars are chariots (in Tamil Ther) mostly made of superior quality wood with images of deities, scenes from the Hindu mythology and other ornate works. They carry procession deities (Urchavars) on the four streets around the temple. The temple car is commonly used on festival days called in Tamil ''Ther Thiruvizha '' and is usually held once in a year. Ardent devotees in hundreds gathered around and pull the specially made huge ropes tied to the car along the streets. Some cars are provided with high tech hydraulic break system to stop the huge car as tall as 3 to 5 story building. Heavy-duty vehicles are used to pull the car along with people. Thiruvarur, Srivilliputhur, Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu and Puri, in Odisha, Kadiri in Andhra Pradesh host some of the largest annual temple car festivals
|Puri Jaganath, Odisa, Ratha-Yatra,en.wikipedia.org|
|Tiruvarur temple car, the largest in Tamil Nadu, |