Two small copper spears that were being taken in an annual ritual procession from Karaikudi to the Palani Dhandayuthapani temple in Tamil Nadu went missing during this year’s event, on January 14. However, they were replaced with new ones, immediately made, and the ritual was continued. Authorities said that the two spears which went missing were being used for the past 422 years, and that an investigation is underway to locate the original spears.
According to a report in the Times of India, the nagarathar (chettiars) of Karaikudi, Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, and Sivaganga have been going on this pilgrimage carrying the 3.5 cm-long spears since 1601.
According to police officials at the Natham police station, this year, however, as they were staying at a temple in Samudrapatti, on January 13, the spears were kept in the temple in a silver box, which went missing the next morning. But, as the pilgrimage could not be continued without the spears, two new ones were hurriedly made and the procession continued after a delay, the report said.
For the rest of the year, the spears are kept at an ancestral home in Nerkuppai, from where it is taken for the pilgrimage every year, police said. A probe is underway to identify the accused.
The spears are taken from Nerkuppai to the Palani temple each year before the ‘Thai Poosam’ festival and rituals are performed. The Palani Dandayudhapani Swami Temple is said to be one of the six abodes of the Hindu god Murugan. The idol of Murugan in Palani is believed to be created and consecrated by sage Bogar, out of an amalgam made of nine poisons or ‘navapashanam’. Other than the steps which lead to the top of the hill, there is a winch-and-rope car service used for transportation of devotees to and from the hill.