By Swami Harshananda
Aṣṭa-dhātus literally means ‘eight metals’.
In temples, the original icon in the garbhagṛha or sanctum sanctorum, called ‘dhruvabera’ is generally made of stone and is permanently fixed. As the temple rituals evolved into elaborate proportions, the need for a subsidiary image, a replica or a representative of the original, also arose. It was this image made of Aṣṭa-dhātus that was taken out in procession on festival days. Hence it was called ‘utsavamurti’ or ‘procession-image.’
These images were made of ‘aṣṭadhātus’ or 'aṣtalohas' i.e. eight metals viz.,
- Mercury (or brass).
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore