CHENNAI: Devotees thronged the ninth Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair-2018 on Thursday to not only visit the 500-plus stalls at the venue but to also worship the Shivalingams that were replicated from over 10 revered temples in the country.

The fair held at Guru Nanak College in Velachery saw people from all age groups and backgrounds visiting the site and being enthralled by the workmanship of the individual lingams that resembled their original counterparts in temples everywhere from Kedarnath to Rameswaram.

School students at the spiritual fair

“I have heard so much about the temple in Kedarnath but at this age, travelling is a huge problem,” said J Vijayalakshmi, a 75-year-old woman who suffers from arthritis. “My legs are very weak and I cannot walk for long but I feel like I visited the Kedarnath temple now because I have prayed to what resembles the lingam there. I feel so blessed and happy,” she said.

The feeling is no different from visiting a temple, complete with a few priests and vibhuti. Visitors are made to leave their footwear outside and upon entering, they are immediately enveloped by a sense of calm. All the mayhem from the fair is forgotten and all that is left is the sight of the lingams and revere devotees.

It was not just elderly people but also school children who expressed tremendous joy  at being able to see the varied lingams.”I have never travelled much outside Tamil Nadu,” said K Raja, class 4 student of a private school in the city who had visited the fair with his parents. “I did not know many of these places but when I was going around, my father kept explaining which temple was where and I learnt five new places in the process.”

Apart from this, parents were happy to see that their children could pick up moral lessons too.”I was so glad to see that there were such friendly and approachable people at the spot,” said A Shanmugam, who brought his school-going daughters to the fair.  “They spoke to the children patiently about complex things like ‘dharma’ and ‘the law of karma’ and simplified it so that the children could pick up on how they can use it in their lives too.”

Another hotspot at the site were two large potted plants where people went and dropped off colourful tags that read — Gratitude, Love,Compassion, Perseverance, Courage, Happiness and so on — on their way out. What starts as a journey of devotion ends with a message of doing more good and spreading positivity in the world.

The event has been organised by the Hindu Spiritual and Service Foundation (HSSF) and the Initiative for Moral and Cultural Training Foundation (IMCTF) and also had stalls which covered everything from ancient literature, history and teachings of renowned leaders to yoga, meditation, daily life hacks and even Patanjali products.

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