Devotees were only allowed after the deity reached the Thousand Pillar Mandapam on Friday morning
The most important event of the Vaikunda Ekadasi festival at the Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, the opening of the Paramapada Vaasal, was held in the early hours of Friday without a public darshan, due to restrictions imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire temple complex was decked up for the Vaikunta Ekadasi festival.
The processional deity, Lord Namperumal, attired in Ratnangi (gem-studded armour) was taken in a procession, after rituals at the sanctum sanctorum, through the Raja Mahendran Thiruchutru and Kulasekaran Chutru before reaching the Vraja Nadhi Mandapam a few metres ahead of the Paramapada Vaasal. Vedic hymns were rendered by pandits at the Vraja Nadhi Mandapam where the processional deity halted for some time. Later, Lord Namperumal passed through Paramapada Vaasal at around 4.45 a.m. and was taken to the Thirumamani Asthana Mandapam inside the Thousand Pillar Mandapam, where devotees were allowed to have darshan.
The event normally attracts milling crowds and chants of ‘Ranga Ranga’ would rent the air when the Lord exits through the Paramapada Vaasal. The entire temple complex wore a different look in the absence of devotees who were not allowed when the holy procession of the deity took place. No passes were issued and there was no jostling for space by VIPs either.
Only the temple priests, trustees, staff, police personnel and media persons, were allowed to enter the shrine during the opening of the Paramapada Vaasal.
The temple had been closed for devotees from 6 p.m. on Thursday, and devotees were allowed only after the deity reached the Thousand Pillar Mandapam on Friday morning.
Commissioner of Police, Tiruchi, J. Loganathan who personally monitored the arrangements inside the temple complex told The Hindu that the devotees were allowed from 6.30 a.m. The temple administration had introduced a system of online booking for devotees to have darshan. They were subjected to thermal scanning at the entrance. All devotees were required to wear masks.
Temple authorities said 600 devotees would be allowed to have darshan every hour in view of the restrictions and to ensure physical distancing.
The Vaikunda Ekadasi festival, which is split into ‘Pagal Pathu’ and ‘Ra Pathu’ commenced on December 14 with the Thirunedunthandakam. It will conclude on January 4 with Nammazhwar Moksham.