The 32ft Athi idol is the new attraction of this Vinayagar Chaturthi

CHENNAI: A unique 32 feet tall idol of Lord Ganesh made of fig tree, in a standing position, in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu is the newest attraction of this Chaturthi festival in the state.

The gigantic “Athi Vinayagar” idol made with 83 fig trees by the Nagai Viswaroopa Vinayagar committee and the devotees will not join thousands of idols for the “Visarjan” (immersion) ceremony but will continue to honor the devotees forever, said said committee chairman Kubendran.

The colossal task of carving the image of Lord Ganesh from the sacred fig tree started in January this year and the work was completed recently by Sthapathi Thirunavukarasar and 14 other sthapathis.

“There hasn’t been a Ganesh Chathurti festival for 2 years because of the Covid-19. And this time I decided to have a holy fig tree Ganesh idol which was my dream for 15 years “said Kubendran from Nagapattinam, which is about 300 km from here.

After the committee gave its approval, funds were raised to make the idol. It took almost 8 months to carve this beautiful image with raw fig trees from the districts of the Cauvery delta.

“We spent almost Rs 1.5 crore to have this idol weighing 4 tons and also a huge ratham (chariot) on which the Lord will be placed,” Kuberan told PTI.

“We have worked diligently day and night to make the idol of Pillaiyar (another name for Ganesh),” said stapathi leader Thirunavukarasu.

According to Kuberan, Athi is considered very sacred by Hindus as the tree is associated with Lord Dattatreya representing Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. Moreover, the fig tree is well known as a symbol of happiness, prosperity and longevity in the country.

“It will be the only such idol in the country for Ganesh, although Tamil Nadu has Athi Varadar, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu at Kancheepuram, who grants darshan to devotees once every 40 years; and Athi Perumal of the temple Sri Srinivasa Perumal in the village of Kozhikuthi on the banks of the Cauvery River near Mayavaram,” he claimed.

The presiding deity of the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple is said to be 20 feet tall and made of fig wood while Athi Varadar in a prone position is 9 feet tall.

Puja is performed twice a day at the Athi Vinayagar and currently the efforts are to build a shelter for the Lord.

Keith P. Plain