A spiritual attraction

Print edition : December 21, 2007

The silver adornment of varied sizes previously used to cover the idol of Vinayaka. -

The silver adornment

KANIPAKAM in the Irala mandal in Chittoor district on the Tirupati-Bangalore arterial road is fast emerging as a famous pilgrimage centre. The Varasidhi Vinayaka temple, built in the 11th century by Kulothunga Chola I, and expanded in 1336 by the Vijayanagara rulers, is a major attraction of this town. Local legends claim that the idol of Ganesha has been growing in size.

According to a legend, about 1,000 years ago, three physically challenged persons were cultivating a piece of land near Viharapuri village, the original name of Kanipakam. One day two of them were bailing out water and the third was irrigating the land.

After a while the water level in the well touched rock bottom. So they decided to deepen the well. When the spade hit a granite block, blood gushed out. On touching the blood-mixed water the three men were cured of their impairment. They continued to dig deeper until they found the idol of Ganesha with blood flowing from an injury on the head. The unusual spectacle attracted the villagers and they began to break coconuts before the self-manifested idol. The coconut water spilled over one and a quarter acre of land, which is called kani in Tamil. That is how the place came to be called Kanipakam. The idol of Vinayaka is said to be located in a pit with water oozing from below. Temple priests suggest that the idol has been growing in size. In 1947, a devotee, Bezawada Siddaiah of Aragonda Gollapalli village, presented a silver adornment, which perfectly fitted the idol. Now it is said to have become grossly undersized.

Another interesting feature of the temple is the sathya pramanam, or swearing in the name of the Kanipakam Vinayaka. If a person swears by Vinayaka, it is taken as the absolute truth. Civil and family disputes are settled in the temple with the disputing parties asked to swear by the deity. Interestingly, even politicians in these parts openly challenge their detractors to come and prove their charges in the temple. For the swearing ritual a tariff of Rs.516 is collected by the temple authorities.

The temple administration is planning to construct a 100-room choultry through public donation. We are proceeding with a clear vision not only to introduce new sevas and facilities but also to upgrade amenities to match the ever-increasing pilgrim inflow, says G. Kesavulu, executive officer of the temple, who is also the Regional Joint Commissioner of the Endowments Department.

A. Devarajan
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