Emerald idol of God Shiva and failed burglary - Sri Mangalanathaswamy temple,TN

Sri Mangalanathaswamy temple, TN India. Emerald idol,hindu-blog.com

 In the last decade or so the Hindu temples in India , particularly, in Tamil Nadu have become targets for idol thieves and robbers. They know  very well which temples have valuable age-old metal idols, gold-jewelry, objects of divinity made of gem quality stones, artifacts, etc. Though the state govt. department in charge  of more than 35000 Hindu temples across  Tamil Nadu is trying hard to manage the affairs of innumerable famous and historical temples, there  are many black sheep in the organization who have political influence. The department  gets a bad rap because of these unscrupulous people who  indulge in stealing temple jewelry, illegal-grabbing of  vast temple lands and valuable urban properties owned by them. Besides, these historic temples face threats from professional idol robbers and  burgles as the security system in countless temples is not good enough to discourage the intruders. A case in point is the abortive attempt made by a gang of burglars in the temple at  at Uthirakosamangai, south Tami;l Nadu.

Sri Mangalanathaswamy temple at Uthirakosamangai,TN en.wikipedia.org

The historic Sri Mangalanathaswamy temple at Uthirakosamangai, near Ramanathapuram,TN is a popular Hindu temple where the main deity is God Shiva (Mangalanathar in the form of linga and his consort goddess Mangalambigai). This temple  where  the God is said to have saved the Vedic scriptures  is  glorified by the famous Tamil saint Manikavasagar in the 9th century and by Arunagirinathar in the 15th century. Here, there is a  1.8 meter  tall Natarajar idol in Ananda Thandavam posture in a separate sanctum. It is further believed that God Shiva danced here exclusively for his consort Parvati. The striking feature of this idol  is it is made of precious stone maragatham (emerald) in deep green color and is kept in a strong room with heavy doors, etc along with burglar alarms, This monolithic maragatha idol is the cynosure of many professional robbers and idol thieves, hence the HR & CE, a govt of Tamil Nadu organization has taken extra caution and safety measures to safeguard the valuable idol that is priceless. The shrine has two strong grill gates to gain entry. Further the idol is set in such a way the intruders cannot take it out without breaking it.    To avoid any minor damages, percussion musical instruments  are not allowed to play in the shrine. It is believed to be the biggest emerald idol in the world. The temple has a hall of Sahasralinga with thousand lingas enshrined in it and there are spatika lingas (made of pure transparent quartz mineral).

In spite of extra precaution and safety measures taken by the temple management, a  failed robbery attempt was made in the early hours of December 4th 2018 (Sunday)  by two robbers who scaled the compound wall and attacked the security guard in that shrine to lay their hands on the idol inside the sanctum. Then they tried hard to break open the grill gates and little did they realize the temple had  two extra alarms near the entrance to warn the local people in case of burglary . When the alarms  in the outer area went off, robbers took to their heels to avoid capture. Upon hearing the alarm,  two  security guards sleeping in the other shrines  (Ambal and Sawmi sannadhis near-by) came to the spot and found the guard in the the  Natarajar shrine lying unconscious with head injuries. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. The police from Kilakari police station registered the case and were  investigating the robbers who had been  at large. 

This maragatha idol in dance posture (cosmic dance)  can be worshiped only on the Thiruvathirai day of Tamil month Margazhi annually (Decembe -January).. On this day the sandal paste will  be removed from the idol for Arudhra Dharshan  and   small bits of sandal past will be given as prasadam to the devotees and rest of the days Santhanakappu  (anointing with  sandalwood paste) is applied to protect the shine on the idol and the idol is not kept for darshan.  Yet another explanation  for the anointing of sandalwood paste is to protect the precious idol from invaders and from the  colonial rulers - the  British in the way past.. This temple is jointly under the management of Ramanathapuram Samasthanam Devasthanam  and Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department(HR & CE).