Sunday, 2 February 2020

Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur - many interesting facts about preparations of ensuing consecration

The preparations for the consecration which is scheduled to take place on 5th February at Brihadeeawara Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva) in Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu  are a tough undertaking by the state Government. This 1000 plus year old UNESCO world heritage temple, a symbol of Indian Hindu temple architecture of Dravidian style,  was built by the great Chola ruler Sri Raja Raja I, a dedicated Hindu ruler who gave grants to both Shiva and Vishnu temples in the Chola Kingdom. King Raja Raja was also known as Sivapada Sundaran  meaning a man devoted to the feet of  God Shiva.'  Art historian Fergusson described this paradox when he said the Cholas “conceived like giants and finished like jewellers”. Rajaraja Cholan ruled between 985-1014 AD, the temple is Thanjavur’s best-known landmark. This temple has survived six recoded earthquakes and a major fire mishap.  None of the forts and palaces built by the Cholas survives today. They, in their heyday, were also pioneers in naval warfare, carrying out hostile waterborne expeditions to Sri Lanka and the Far East.
Thanjavur big temple, TN
"according to Mr Nagasami, a well-known archaeologist.
"Temple inscription says he first placed all the spoils of war at the feet of god and sought blessing from the almighty. This temple complex made only of hard rock, is being managed by the ASI - the Archaeological Survey of India and its state branch. Here the lord's consort is Periyanayagi (Parvati)_ and the temple is famous for one of the largest stone bulls (Nandi) in India. The temple bears testimony to  the brilliant achievements of the Chola ruler in the area of 
\architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting''

The ASI and their workers had put in thousands of hours into renovating this 11th century Shiva temple with careful planning and execution. Equally important is the role being played by the state agency HR & CE  and its officials.  The ASI began the major cleaning work in 2018 after a long gap. It was  done  earlier in 2011. Now, every part of  this huge heritage temple is chemically cleaned. 
one of the tallest Shiva lingams (13 feet), Big temple, Thanjavur, TN pinrest com.
 The following are the important preparations being carried out for the coming kumbabishekam at the Big Temple, Thanjavur:
01. To avoid any mishap or any threats by terrorist groups and miscreants, Bomb Detection and Disposal  Squad (BDDS) police were deployed on the big temple premises.  They searched the complex with mine sweepers periodically. A metal detector is installed at the Kerakathan vayil, the main entrance  to the temple besides Rajarajan Vayil. The BDDS has put 40 personnel on duty  aided by two sniffer dogs. They will be on duty till the 5th of 
Thanjavur Brihadeeawara Temple, TN
02. Refitting of the huge Kalasam on the Vimanam on the 216 ft tall tower (gopuram) right above the sanctum, was done  with proper rituals on the 30th of January.  Earlier the kalasam was dismantled part by parts and taken to the temple premises for cleaning purpose. The 12 foot tall kalasam is well cleaned and gold plated. The kalasam has been  scientifically inspected by experts from IIT, Chennai and Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, near Chennai.It consists of 8 parts -3 big ones and 5 small ones. The big ones were transported to the top using heavy ropes whereas the small ones were taken to the top physically  using the temporary scaffolding. The total weight of the vimanam (cupola) is  80-tonne.
03.  Cleaning the main kalasam  (pot) as well as small ones on other towers is an important part of consecration work  and 25 persons were involved under the head Sthapathy. It is said 199 gm of gold is used for coating the outer surface. As for other small towers, the old kalasams were removed earlier for cleaning and later coated with gold. For six other kalasams, 144 gm of gold was used for gold coating. 

04. On the vimanam, the klasam was  filled with 225 kg of Kodo millet (Varagu). It is said this will give stability to the kalasam.

05. Atop the tall vimanam close to the kalasam, with a view to pouring holy water kept in the yagasala for 4 days, a broad  platform is set up  for the Shivacharyas to perform the main rituals
The entrance of the Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur.

06.  The Yagasala complex covering  11,900 sq.ft of pandal is set up just outside the temple premises in the near-by Sivaganga park complex.  Last time 23 years ago, the yagasala was built inside the temple  close to the temple entrance and, unfortunately, fire broke out on 7 June 1997 caused by a spark in the thatched roof. It is believed a fire cracker lit near the temple fell on the yagasala,  A stampede occurred  when the people panicked and rushed to the only entrance on the east side, resulting in the death of 40 people and injury to 200 people.  This time, the fire service dept. has kept fire engines close to the Yagasala for emergency purpose. The Pundits will be doing various pujas right  before more than 100 Agni (fire) kundams invoking various  Hindu deities.

07. Presently, about 400 priests (pundits), specialized in consecration ceremonies of Shiva temples  will be involved in the  pujas and rituals. A large number of ''Oothuvars''  (experts in Tamil devotional hymns) will be  continuously  engaged in reciting Tamil hymns throughout the consecration rituals along with Shivcharyas.   
08. According to the ASI there are as many as 1008 stone  statues of Nandis (bulls) on the roof of the circumambulation hall. Some of the damaged nandis were repaired. The circumabulation walls on all sides were chemically cleaned. About 30 to 35 workers were engaged in the cleaning operations under the ASI direction. 

09. To strength the bond between stone  images and the bases, the ASI has used a blend of nine substances - Shellack, Buffalo butter wax, honey wax Shorea Robusta, etc. The substances were prepared in the wooden mortar (in Tamil Ural).

10. Yet another interesting fact is various deities and stone images in the complex,  including those in the circumambulation hall  were cleaned with a mixture of curd and raw rice flour. The paste was left on the images for two days and later removed. Only after this tough job, the oil was applied on the stone images. 

11. The most difficult job was cleaning the  statues and images at the upper levels of the tall gopuram. The granite towers both small ones and the tall one  turned almost black due to vagaries of weather, besides environmental pollutants and  accumulation of dirt and micro dust. The ASI had to tackle the growth of moss and lichens on them.  They  executed the laborious multi-step  process  to clean the blackened towers, etc.

12. The crucial part is the  cleaning of the stone images on all sides of the tall tower over the sanctum. Considered as  a herculean job, special care must be taken to preserve the heritage aspect, not causing any damages to the brilliantly chiseled images.  First, they were gently scrubbed  with soft coir brushes, then cleaned with ammonia solution and, then  non ionic detergents. This is followed by fungicidal  coating and then  by water-repellent coat.

13. It is worth mentioning that  the repair work involved in the recreation of old construction methods. The brick flooring  around the sanctum - garbagriha had to be relaid  as the broken flooring or cracks in them may cause water seepage endangering the near-by foundation work.  Special bricks were used along with lime -sand mortar, Kadukkai (Chebulic Myrobalan), jaggery and  Aloe Vera extract.  This particular mortar was used  in many places that needed patch-work. This process will retard water seepage.

14.  Already, as a prelude to major rituals associated with the big temple consecration, the flag mast made of teak wood imported from Myanmar,  was installed after 5 long hours of erection work. This flag mast (Dwajasthambam) is 40ft tall and the cost is around nine lakh rupees. Subsequently, it will be covered with copper casing. Hoisting of temple flag marks the actual beginning of the major ceremony for that matter at any Hindu temples.

15. Last week itself  a ritual associated with the  beginning  of kumbabishekam called Yjamana Anungyay and later Ganathay Homam were done for the success of this long consecration process.
16. It is said more than 4000 police will be in charge of security duty - bandobast.
17.  The rituals will be performed both in Sanskrit and Tamil languages according to the temple Agama sastras and equal importance will be given to the recitation of Tamil devotional hymns that will accompany mantras in Sanskrit. Inside the sanctum, a huge platform is set up  for anointing (ritual bath) of the 13-foot tall Shiva linga. Indian Express (Tiruchi edition), dated February 28, 2020. page 03:: ''Bomb detection squad deployed at Big Temple'' ''PIL to conduct ceremony in Tamil''.