Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Statue of Lord Murugan

Grand feat


Gazing at the magnificent 42.7m-high statue of Lord Murugan at Batu Caves, Selangor, artisan and sculptor R. Thiyagarajan still has trouble believing that his team’s three years of sweat and toil have come to fruition.

It is believed to be the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world and the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple officials are aiming to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The RM2.5mil statue is expected to pull in even more local and foreign tourists to the popular Batu Caves which already draws about 2,000 people daily.

Lord Murugan, also known as Subramanya, Skanda and Kartikkeya, among others, is popular among the Saivite Hindus of south India and is regarded as a protector of their culture and language.

Thiyagarajan, 42, from Trivarur, in Tamil Nadu, India, and his team of 14 workers began work after receiving a call from temple chairman R. Nadarajah.

The challenge was getting the statue’s proportions right.

“The statue is divided into nine-and-a-half portions from the head to the feet. Each portion is accurately measured and these measurements must be very precise,” he told The Star.

It is made up of 1,550cu.m of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint. The foundation reaches 3.04m (10ft) underground.

“We had to work within a small area, lining up the bricks because of the scaffolding and the cover for the statue,” he said, adding that the carved garland and the vel (spear) were each 27.4m (90ft) long.

“Our main goal was to make sure the statue was free of flaws,” he said.

Thiyagarajan is no stranger to creating Hindu deity statues in Malaysia. He helped construct the Mariamman Temple in Tasek Gelugor, Seberang Prai, in 1991 before coming to Kuala Lumpur where he built the Meenakshi Amman statue at Batu Caves.

He and his team also did the 36 Vinayagar statues in Kortumalai Temple on Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, and the 50-feet (15m) tall Anjaneya statue, also in Batu Caves.

Thiyagarajan learned his trade from his grandfather, K. Periasamy Pillay and another guru, N. Kathiravale, in Thanjavur for 10 years before branching out on his own.