Abodes of Ganesha
Abodes of Shakti
Abodes of Shiva
Abodes of Skanda Abodes of Surya
Abodes of Vishnu
Templenet Archives

Templenet Encyclopedia
Travel and Tourism
Festivals and Fairs
Beliefs and Legends
Glossary of Terms
About Templenet

tn.jpg (19837 bytes)
The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples

Temples of Tamilnadu
Temples of Kerala
Temples of Karnataka
Temples of Andhra

Temples of Orissa
Temples of Central India
Temples of Maharashtra
Temples of Western India
Temples of the Himalayas
Temples of the Gangetic Plains
Temples of North Eastern India
Temples of Bengal

Feedback & Information:

K. Kannikeswaran
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website may be reproduced or used in any form without permission.
Tradition Meets

tn.jpg (19837 bytes)

Temples of Tamilnadu

Reviving Tradition
Special Feature - January 2011

The chariot festival at the colossal Mahalinga Swami temple at Tiruvidaimarudur to be revived

In brief: The grand chariot festival at the ancient Tiruvidaimarudur temple in Tamilnadu is to be revived after a gap of 74 years thanks to the initiative of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. This chariot festival on Jan 19th is one with a difference. It represents the will to restore ancient traditions; the entire process of renovating the chariots and creating the buildup to the festival literally is a case study in mega-event-management.

The clichéd statement ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ can be extrapolated to state that it takes an entire village to pull a chariot.

This statement indeed rings true during the bhrahmotsavam in each and every temple in South India where hundreds if not thousands gather to pull a chariot through a village or a town.

The statement ‘tiruvarur terazhagu’ refers to the beauty of the chariot in the temple town of Tiruvarur as it sways gently and makes its round around the processional streets of this temple town. The rath yatra in Puri bearing the image of the presiding deity Jagannath is the source of the British word juggernaut!

Chariot festivals have been going on in India for centuries. ‘Rathotsava’ (ratha – chariot, utsava – celebration) is not a mere religious ritual. It is a season for great rejoicing.  It is a social event that brings together people from all communities and walks of life.

The city dwellers of Chennai must be familiar with the Kapalisvarar festival which draws lakhs of people particularly during the two day period where the rathotsavam and the arupattumoovar celebrations happen.  Everyone becomes a ‘contributor’ and there is so much of hospitality, food and goodwill all over the place.

It is clear that such occasions generate mutual love, respect and goodwill among diverse communities of the ancient land.

Tiruvidaimarudur near Thanjavur (Kumbhakonam) houses an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva. This mammoth structure is an awe inspiring temple that has been venerated for over a millennium. This temple used to host a grand chariot festival with five rathas.

However, this festival came to a standstill some 74 years ago and the five wooden chariots disintegrated with time.

A historic occasion: This festival is just about to be revived on the 19th of January this year thanks to the initiative of Swami Dayananda Saraswati with the consent of the Gurumahasannidanam of the Tiruvavaduturai Adhinam mutt.

The revival of this festival is a mammoth task. All of the five rathas had to be renovated. It is to be kept in mind that such renovation is not a mechanical process but one that requires specialized skills. Yet, it is a tremendous opportunity to revive a dying art.

In the words of  Swami Dayananda Saraswati, “The construction of the five rathas generates job opportunities for these artisans and also accomplishes the significant feat of preserving this art culture by providing a great opportunity for the artistically talented youth in the town to get trained in the fine art of wooden sculptures”.

It is more than renovating wooden structures.

The vision regarding the renewal of a tradition and the leadership are the prime factors behind the revival of this festival.

The vision was communicated; an organization was formed to carry out this seva (service). The Tiruvavadutrai Adhinam which manages the Tiruvidaimarudur temple put its best foot forward towards the realization of this dream. Funds were raised. Artisans were trained. The brick and masonry structure ‘ther nilai’ adjacent to the resting point of the chariot was renovated.

With an eye on detail, a trial run of this chariot was carried out in November 2010 after affixing mammoth steel wheels specially manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electricals to the wooden structre.

The State of Tamilnadu has offered its cooperation through its renovation and repair of the roads through which this procession will pass.

Now the stage is set for the main chariot to roll out on the 19th of this month, on the full moon day in the asterism of Pushya. (tai poosam).

We hope that this historic event sets the wheels rolling for many such revivals across the nation.