Kancheepuram Ekambaranathar temple Brahmotsavam is the annual festival held for 14 days during the Panguni masam in Tamil Panchangam. In 2010, Kancheepuram Brahmotsavam begins on March 19th and ends on April 1st, 2010. And Rathotsavam would be celebrated on March 25. This is the first Rathotsavam after 150 years.
For the first time in 150 years, the Ekambaranathar Temple chariot car got rolling on Thursday. The previous chariot car was gutted in a fire.
Scores of devotees thronged the streets to pull the Vadam or the temple chariot through the four Rajaveethis. The trial run began around 8.30 am and completed its course several hours behind schedule in the evening. Labour Welfare Minister T M Anbarasan and Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments K R Periyakaruppan, who were scheduled to join the procession, backed out in the last minute.
The 63-foot high chariot with four iron-framed wheel worth Rs 1.35 crore was donated to the temple by a group of chartered accountants operating both in India and the United States. BHEL engineers specially designed the giant steel wheels and the axle of the temple car. It was assembled by a team led by Sivagangai-based Sthapathi Somalakhsmana Achaari, who said a hydraulic brake system, also done by BHEL, would be later added in order to facilitate smooth movement and negotiate intricate curves on the road. This year the annual Brahmotsavam would be held from March 19 to April 1, and the Rathotsavam would be held on March 25.
Considering that Kancheepuram is one of the seven Mokshapuris, and the temple one of the Panchabhuta Kshetras, the revival of the car festival this year assumes added significance.
Even though the chariot has rolled out, one question still remains. Why it took more than 150 years to revive the practice of the temple car procession?
Informed sources argue that finding philanthropists to foot the bill was never an issue, especially with the Sankara Mutt during the days of the now deceased Periyaval inclined to find sponsors. According to them, temple-related oneupmanship between two middle order communities that constantly threw a spanner in the wheels of a new temple car project, before it was finally shelved, was the reason. Now, a very famous singer played a uniting role, they added.