Despite having the state police played a disruptive role, Vinayaka Chaturthi has been celebrated with all religious fervour and grandeur across Tamil Nadu
TS Venkatesan, Chennai
Come September, it is a gala celebration time for devotees of elephant faced God Ganesh popularly known as Pillaiyar in Tamil Nadu. Following the customs in northern India, it has been practised in Southern parts of the India too with pomp and gaiety with weeklong celebrations. It has now percolated to even small hamlets in Tamil Nadu. Giant idols of Lord Ganesh made in clay, plaster of Paris, fruits, vegetables, coconuts, flowers and what not are made for the display. The sad part is the attitude towards the state police administration which has baffled many staunch devotees.
Talking to Organiser, Hindu Munnani State Vice President G Karthikeyan said that the state police did all the tricks in their bag to prevent us from putting up idols in the city. On September 4, the day before Ganesh festival, afternoon Chennai city police, were dead against the installation of temporary vinayagar idols. “It was a smooth affair in the past few years, until we protested against AIADMK’s attitude towards Hindus. Particularly we urged the State government to free the temple administration from the HR&CE clutches as several crores of revenue from the temple properties and offerings from devotees were being squandered by politicians and officials,” he said.
“Our parents were threatened that if they would go ahead with the idol installation, they would be put behind bars after foisting false cases with serious sections. In Amijikarai, Hindu Munnani office bearer was beaten badly by police resulting bleeding from nose, mouth and head. Even ladies bore the brunt of the brute police force. In Several places police removed the Vinayagar statues and kept them in police stations. To prevail upon good sense on Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, a special prayer was conducted. Besides, we have staged ‘Road Roko’ protest against the state police’s ire towards us,” Karthikeyan said.
Despite all the odds, the braveheart festival organisers burnt a lot of midnight oil in the making of Vinayagar idols to ensure new styles, new avatars. This year Bahubali model is famous. With more than 5,000 giant statues of the popular elephant lord were being set up in various neighbourhoods. The statues are being made of Paper Mache and edible items, including vegetables and fruits. Karthikeyan said, “Like each year, we are setting up 5,000 statues in the city and suburbs. Most of these are made of Paper Mache but in some areas, chikki, laddus, Mysore pa, ground nuts, nine varieties of grains, dates, etc., are being used. The maximum height of the statue this year would be 15ft and it would be in T Nagar. Also, they are being made from natural dye without causing damage to the environment.”
A whopping 3.5-ton pineapple was used to make a 72 feet Tall giant Vinayagar in Kolathur, Chennai. Also, in the same city, 700 kg vegetables were consumed into the making of a Vinayagar. Both these Vinayagars were the cynosure of devotees who thronged the pandal where they were displayed for a week. Another attraction was the floral Vinayagar in Coimbatore Puliyakulam. The devotees used all varieties of fragrant flowers to make this Pillaiyar. In Keeping with the tradition, a mega-size kozhukattai (sweet modak) was made for Rockfort temple deity in Trichy. The 150kg sweet modak was offered to the presiding deity in the Ucchi Pillayar deity (atop a hill) on Vinayaka Chaturthi Day.