Monday, October 27, 2014

Stop and pray

If you are driving northbound on Gandhi Mandapam Road through Kotturpuram, there is one place you would need to be extra careful. The road is quite neat and well maintained, and the traffic flows along smoothly, so it is usually a pleasant drive. However, just before you reach the bridge across the Adayar, make sure you are alert for a sudden pause. Many of the vehicles, just before they reach the bridge, hit the brakes for the occupants to look left and offer a quick prayer at this temple from inside the vehicle. 

That is the Varasiddhi Vinayagar Temple. It is not of any great antiquity, probably dating back to the 1970s or 1980s - I will not swear to it, though. Over the years, it has been quite popular with the passing motorists. Most of the times, the pause in front of this temple is not obviously noticeable; because of the road from the TNHB flats which comes out to join the main road, traffic does slow you down. It is when the road is clear that the pause and obeisance become most identifiable - and unexpected.

The temple was in the news recently, when the former Chief Minister Jayalalitha returned to Chennai from Bengaluru after being granted bail. Each time that she passes this temple on her way to the airport, she has the habit of stopping across the road and praying to Vinayagar, the remover of obstacles. Late September, on her way to Bengaluru for the court hearing that saw her - unexpectedly - being jailed, she had supposedly broken that habit, even though the police had made arrangements for her to halt and pray there. It is reported that she made amends on her way back!

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