VILLUPURAM: A lemon usually sells for Rs 3 to Rs 5, but an auction near Ulundurpet saw nine lemons being sold for Rs 1.03 lakh! Stuck on the vel (spear) in the sanctum of the Raathinavel Murugan temple, it is believed that the lemons have miraculous powers. The highest price fetched by a lemon was Rs 30,500 and officials said the Rs 1.03 lakh they earned from this year’s auction was the highest ever.
The Raathinavel Murugan temple is situated in the hills at Ottanandhal near Thiruvennainalur at Ulundurpet taluk.

The sanctum of the temple does not have an idol of Lord Muruga, but has his spear instead. Every year, in the Tamil month Panguni, an annual festival is held for 11 days. And during the festival, a lemon is placed on the vel on each day for the first nine days. On the eleventh and final day, the lemons are auctioned.
Since there is a widespread belief that childless women will conceive after eating the lemon, many don’t mind shelling out big amounts for the fruits. Last year’s auction saw nine lemons being sold for Rs 68,100.

This year’s festival started on March 21 with a flag hoisting ceremony and every day, a lemon was pierced in the vel and poojas conducted. People from various places, including Villupuram, Cuddalore, Salem, Chennai, Puducherry, Tiruchy, Bengaluru and Coimbatore also took part.

As is the tradition, village chief Balakrishnan conducted the auction in front of the Idumban temple by standing on wooden sandals with sharp nails. The first lemon sold for Rs 30,500, which was lower than last year’s price for the first lemon (Rs 39,000). It was bought by Shankar and his wife Mangalakshmi of Kundalapuliyur. However, other lemons got better prices than last year.