The Power of Temple Images

According to an article in today’s The Hindu, the power -- or perhaps charisma is a better word? -- of temple idols is enhanced by the care their priests and devotees take of them.

Years ago I studied dance in Chennai. One year my teacher, Sitaravamma, offered a green silk sari to Tripurasundari, the goddess of Marundeeswarar Temple in the suburb of Thiruvanmiyur. She was excited about seeing the goddess wearing her gift. She told me that the images in the temple always have power, but on festival days their power increases because of all the people who come to worship. I took this as her personal belief, but the article seems to support it.

For devotees who throng the temples to be in communion with God, the idols enshrined therein are not only alive but are even ready to listen to their pleas. These worthy images have gained the power as they have been made strictly according to scriptural specifications and have started "breathing" after due consecration following elaborate rites. In their presence, some saints have gone into such a height of ecstasy, they had declared that they would not be so moved even if they were taken to God's abode. Certain extraordinary factors make the idols in some places look more dazzling.

Firstly the priests, who are privileged to conduct the rites daily, should have done so with deep interest, commitment and reverence. Secondly, the festivals listed, according to tradition, should have been conducted with all grandeur. The third refers to the nature of jewels and flowers and the dress used to adorn the deities. The next is about the offerings (Prasadams) made on various occasions, as per the customs and the methods of distributing them (to the needy). Then the hymns and "mantras" should have been clearly spelt out. Above all the temple precincts should have been kept clean and properly maintained. For collecting funds from the public towards renovation or putting up fresh constructions, care should be taken for accurate accounting, avoiding expenses on "extraneous considerations" and giving no room for misappropriation... more

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