The 18.5 feet tall and 9 feet wide wooden chariot has 8 pillars with intricate carvings from avatars of Lord Vishnu, Hanuman, Lord Krishna and scenes from Ramayana on 210 idols.
- TS Venkatesan
The chariot that will be donated to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir was unveiled on 19th March in Chennai
In a show of bonhomie and prevalence of Bahgwan Ram throughout Bharat, the Nagarathar community will be donating a Temple chariot (Rath) to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir. The chariot made of wood will be donated on April 2nd which is also the Ram Navami this year. The donation which comes even before the Bhoomi pooja for the much anticipated grand Ram Mandir at Ayodhya has been done, has won accolades from all over.
In tune with the age old Dharmic ethos of the Nagarathar community, they have made a wooden chariot which is all set to roll on the streets of Ayodhya on April 2nd to coincide with the birth day of Lord Ram. This chariot is 18.5 tall and 9 feet wide having 8 pillars. The artistically made wooden temple car has intricate works of 210 idols.
Award winning sculptor ARK Ekambara Aasarai and his team made the wooden carvings on the chariot in a record 66 days. Sri Kasi Nattukottai Nagara Satram Managing society built the wooden chariot at a cost of Rs 40 lakhs.
Senior advocate and President of the society Pazha Ramasamy said the sculpted idols reflect the idols at the temples and are very similar. Explaining further he said the dasa (ten) avatars of Lord Vishnu, Hanuman, Lord Krishna and scenes from Ramayana are beautifully sculpted on the chariot. The Nagarathar community was involved in this ritual for over six decades (between 1882 to 1942) which ended due to the Second World War. The old chariot that was damaged has been rebuilt after 77 years by the community.
"Our community is known for honesty, moral virtues and standards. We are also known for religious virtues and philanthropy. The ritual at Ayodhya was earlier done by the Chathirathaar (members of Choultry) family from Devakottai and through the society we now continue. Our society would celebrate the Ram Navami at Ayodhya on April 1 and 2nd.", he said. He also informed that Justice Dr M Chockalingam, Kamala Theatre owner VNCT Valliappan, Educationist Kuzha Karuppaiah would take part in the event as special guests.
VNCT Valliappan, Retired SC Judge A R Lakshmanan, Pazha Ramasamy, President of Sri Kasi Nattukottai Nagara Satram Managing society (L-R) unveil the picture of the chariot
He said the Nagarathar community has over 1.5 lakh members. "Our community has its roots in 96 small towns and big cities like Karaikudi, Devakottai in Sivaganga and Pattukottai districts. We run around 140 educational institutions across the state. “We have built over 1,000 temples all over the country, besides 100s temples in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia” he added.
About Nagarathar Chettiars
The Nagarathar Chettiars are considered to be one of the elite community belonging to Chettinad region, located in south-eastern part of Tamil Nadu. Well planned towns, beautifully tiled bigger palace like houses in which the teak wood carvings, structures, spacious court yards are even today an attraction for all. Many documentaries were done on their architecture styles.
The community is known for their rich cultural heritage and philanthropic activities. They have built Shiva and Murugan temples where they lived or settled besides running educational institutions, universities and pawn-brokering business. They are reckoned for their honesty, integrity and hardworking nature.
During the British era, they were involved in salt and teak wood trade before shifting to gems, money lending and private financing in the 19th century. They set up business bases in Java, Sumatra, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other south-East Asian nations. When Burma (Myanmar) came under the British Raj in 1826, the members of this community had shifted to money lending activities with their business acumen. Though times have changed, their devotion to Hindu dharma and their philanthropic activities has not.