In a recent development regarding the maintenance of our antiques, permission has been sought to ‘reconstruct’ the famous ”Ezharaponnana”, seven-and-a-half golden elephants, of Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple in Kerala. The Advocate Commissioner, APS Kurup has submitted a report seeking the ‘repair’ of the antiques. The report submitted on August 9th has asked for taking the statutes kept in strongroom for repair to prevent any destruction that can be induced during the annual festival of the temple. The report suggests that the statues might be damaged due to wear and tear from prolonged usage and antiquity.
However, the Travancore Devaswom Board officials have a different mind according to the sources. The gold statues as kept in utmost safety and are taken out and used only once in a year. So chances for any damage are very meagre as per the Devaswom Board officials. Moreover, the decisions regarding the repair and handling of the holy ornaments and valuables of the temples under the Travancore Devaswom board should be authorised by Thiruabharanam Commissioner and him who is responsible for making such a report regarding the need for repairs and remodelling. Nevertheless, it is informed that the Devaswom Board authorities were not notified relating to the need for repairs before the submission of the report in the Court.
It is the duty of the Thiruvabharanam Commissioner who has to inform the Board authorities if any valuables in the temples under Travancore Devaswom board requires refurbishment. A Gazetted officer is present in this post under the Dewaswom Board. He has not prepared any specific reports suggesting the repairs or wear and tear of Ezharaponnana. Advocate Commissioner has only the charge of the construction works under the Master Plan project in the Travancore Devaswom temples. Interestingly, he was associated with two other controversies related to temple gold, the melting f antique gold headgear in the Tripunithura Purnathrayeesa temple and the Sabarimala Flagmast renovation.
Ettumanoor Mahadeva temple is one of the 108 Shivalayas believed to be installed by Sage Parashurama. Lord Shiva here exists as Aghora Murthy with ‘roudra bhava'(aggressive form). The temple is famous for its murals, and the “Ezharaponana”- the seven and a half elephants representing the ‘AshtadigGajams’ namely, Airavatham, Pundareekam, Kanmudam, Anjana, Pushpadantham, Supradeekam, Sarvabhauman and Vamana. Seven of these gold elephants are two feet in height, and the eighth is a foot high. The Maharaja of Travancore gifted these invaluable figures of seven big elephants and one baby elephant in solid gold along with a Pazhukka Kula ( a bunch of Arecanuts) made of Gold. The Ezhara Ponnana procession is a memorable spectacle to behold on the eighth and tenth day of the annual temple festival at Ettumanoor.