INDIA, June 18, 2020 : The annual Ani Thirumanjanam car festival at Sri Sabanayagar temple, popularly known as Sri Natarajar temple, in Chidambaram scheduled on June 27 has been cancelled this year owing to COVID-19 outbreak. Official sources said that a decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the District Collector V. Anbuselvan with Pothu Dikshithars, the hereditary custodians-cum-archakas of the temple. This is one of the two important annual 10-day festivals when Lord Nataraja is taken around the car streets in the temple-town, the other being Arudra Darshan.
“We have decided not to organize the annual car festival in view of the possibility of spreading COVID-19 infection. Though the festival has been cancelled, the Pothu Dikshithars will perform the rituals in-house while maintaining physical distancing,” an official said. For the first time, the local residents, VIPs, leaders of political parties and government officials will not be allowed into the temple. Security has been tightened on all the temple gopurams and Dikshithars will be allowed entry only through the east gopuram, the official added.