Namperumal idol was not replaced, says chief priest

Priests of the Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy temple have denied reports in a section of the media that the processional idol of the shrine, Sri Namperumal, has been replaced.

“The uthsava idol of Sri Namperumal cannot be replaced by anybody at any point of time. It cannot be replaced as long as the ‘Ulthurai kainkaryams’ are being done by us,” the temple’s chief priest Murali Bhattar told a press conference here on Thursday.

Referring to the allegation that the Sri Namperumal idol was replaced during the ‘Swarna Bandhanam’ (patch works made on the idol with gold), Mr. Murali Bhattar said the ‘Swarna Bandhanam’ was necessitated since some minor defects were noticed in the idol’s cheeks.

Priests were present when the ‘Swarna Bandhanam’ was being done for three days on the idol, he maintained. The holy work to rectify the minor defects was carried out under the direct supervision of the Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department and a Special Officer under the Chief Minister.

It was essential to remove the defects as the Sri Namperumal idol was to be carefully preserved for posterity, he said, adding this was the reason for carrying out the patch work. Replacing the idol during the ‘Swarna Bandhanam’ done under the direct supervision of priests and top officials was simply impossible, he said.

He also denied that the idol of Sri Purushothama Perumal had gone missing from the temple. The Purushothama idol was presently installed inside a mandapam in the Thousand Pillar Mandapam and daily rituals were being performed after ‘samprokshanam’ in 2015, he said.

Countering allegations regarding changes made in the idol of the Moolavar (the main deity) made of lime mortar during the temple renovation work, Mr. Murali Bhattar said only the old coating was removed and a new coating applied on the idol. Priests were present when this work was also being done, he said.

Mr. Murali Bhattar alleged that misinformation was being spread about the temple, which was highly condemnable as it caused anxiety among devotees.

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