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Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: the ritual and it’s significance, the temple.

Context: The ‘kumbhabhishekam’ (consecration) of the 1,010-year-old Brihadeeswarar Temple or the Big Temple is being held at Thanjavur. This enormously significant event was held after 23 years — and after the Madras High Court had settled an old argument over the ritual purification process only five days previously.


The judgment delivered on January 31 by the Madurai Bench of the court addressed the struggle for supremacy between the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions that lies at the heart of several cultural battles in the state — and which also played out in the kumbhabishegam ceremony.

What was the issue?

There was a dispute over which language should be used in the slokas at the kumbhabishegam. The Thanjai Periya Koil Urimai Meetpu Kuzhu (Thanjavur Big Temple Rights Retrieval Committee), an organisation that aims to restore Tamil traditions in the Sri Brihadishvara Temple, had demanded that the kumbhabishegam should be held only in Tamil. However, the government had told that the consecration will be performed in both Tamil and Sanskrit. 


About Brihadishvara Temple:

  • Built by emperor Rajaraja Chola I (985 CE -1015 CE).
  • It has seen only five kumbhabhishekam ceremonies so far.
  • As per the customs of Hinduism, ‘kumbhabhishekam’ is done once in 12 years. According to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department, the temple had ‘kumbhabhishekam’ in 1010, 1729, 1843, 1980 and 1997.
  • Located on the banks of Kaveri river, it is an exemplary example of a fully realised Dravidian architecture.
  • It is called as Dhakshina Meru (Meru of south).
  • The temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, along with the Chola dynasty era Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple.
  • There are several shrines added to the temple by most of the following rulers such as the Pandyas, the Vijayanagara rulers and the Marathas, too. 


  • Brihadeshwara Temple is also the first all-granite temple in the world.

Sources: the Hindu.