CHENNAI: A group of temple enthusiasts from the city listened with rapt attention to photographer/yoga teacher/engineer, Siddharth Chandrasekar on the marvels of the Puri Jagannath Temple in Orissa.
With the last weekend’s topic focusing on rediscovering India’s history and the Brahmi script, this weekend the Tamil Heritage Trust – who look to revive lore from temples by paying a visit themselves – shed light on the festivities and rituals that transpire throughout the year at Puri Jagannath.
Coupled with interactive slideshows and fun facts about the temple, the talk transported listeners to the historic site which inspired the English word ‘Juggernaut’, etched with history from the 12th Century.
The talk included preparatory material gathered over the months from renowned scholars and books that highlighted facts and rituals about the temple. Gearing up to see the festivities themselves in January next year, the talks have been taking place every Sunday focusing on different aspects of Orissa’s cultural heritage. “While each version differs, the temple also has a tribal connection, originating from the Jagant trees worshipped by the savaaras/suaras community,” explained Siddharth.
Each slide delved into the different aspects of the attire-changing (beshas) and daily schedules of the temples that begin from 5 am until 12 am. Even lesser known information, such as the 96 varieties of food prepared at the temple and the dishes offered to the idols were discussed. These talks on temples, heritage, and history have been taking place for six years.
The group so far has visited Srirangam in Tiruchy, Badami in Karnataka, temples in Pudukottai, and Gujarat. Led by former IIT Delhi professor Swaminathan, the few enthusiasts gather around every month to celebrate their heritage, occasionally roping in renowned speakers.