The bright metal- covered idols in the sanctum of temples, dazzling in the light of brass lamps, instantly attract devotees and act as a spiritual stimulant but also unfortunately, they become an unwanted shield for the artistic talents of the sculpture, who would have carved them with utmost attention and unstinting devotion. He would have spent several days and nights imagining minute details of every curve and straight line and when the figure takes the shape as he wanted it to be, he would have again spent several days and nights enjoying its beauty. All these are gone in a moment the idol is given a coat, albeit attractive. I dread to imagine the admirably carved Ananthpadmanabha statue in Thiruvanathapuram, wrapped in gold-sheet . whatever its sheen , at one strike, the misplaced enthusiasts would have deprived the devotees the heavenly charm of the face , trunk and limbs of Padmanabha the Paramapurusha, the ocean of grace and beauty, had they thoughtlessly and mercilessly wrapped the statue with a glittering metal cover. I have read somewhere that the statue in fact, is covered with gold but if so, the plating is done so skillfully , with appropriate herbal treatment that the original beauty is retained and the luster of gold is concealed .
I have almost wept while looking at the multi color-washed idols decorating the magnificent temple towers, gopurams, mostly in Tamilnadu. What a merciless devastation man’s salty imagination has caused to the minutely carved mini statues ! Mercifully most of the Kerala temples are spared from this cruelty.
Just as human body looks most beautiful devoid of clothing, though for practical reasons it is necessary to cover them, it is better to leave the idols for worship, with minimum covering . This is not to underestimate the skill of goldsmiths but they have their limitations where as, for the sculpture sky is the limit.
This is purely a personal opinion and I am sure that some may not agree with me. Anyway, this is a matter worth debating and it is for the knowledgeable to look into the sanctity aspect too.
I am afraid, Shri NaT Rajan, has lost the essence of what Shri Sivasubramanian Perinkulam was driving home at.
Shri Perinkulam was pointing out that devotees and enthusiasts, in trying to cover sculptures and images with
gold plating were depriving them of their sheer natural beauty. It was the lamentation of an artist and if I am permitted to say so, it was not the outburst of an iconoclast.
Shri Nat Rajan has the freedom to be a believer, agnostic or atheist, as per his conviction. I respect him for that. If a Rupees six hundred crores golden temple, deprives the poor of a loin cloth or their cups of tea, a billion dollar mansion in a city is equally an anachronism, in the midst of millions struggling for shanties. I do not hold any brief for the promoters of the Golden Temple. I don’t venerate there. I was merely pointing out that oddities could be found everywhere.