Traditional temple

Commission of Inquiry Receives Over 14,000 Petitions Alleging Irregularities at Chidambaram Natarajar Temple

HR&CE dept refer complaints to Pothu Dikshithars, seek explanation within 15 days

HR&CE dept refer complaints to Pothu Dikshithars, seek explanation within 15 days

Over 14,000 petitions with serious allegations against management of Arulmigu Sabanayagar Temple [Chidambaram Natarajar Temple] were received by an official commission of inquiry.

The petitioners, responding to a public notice calling for opinions, urged the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) to take appropriate action to correct the irregularities.

The Department had set up a commission of inquiry and called those interested in the “welfare of the temple administration” on June 20 and 21. According to officials, 19,405 representations were received in person or by mail/email.

Of these 14,098 petitions concerned allegations in the conduct of rituals, practices, financial irregularities and other administrative aspects of the temple, sources from the HR&CE department told The Hindu on Friday.

The common complaint was that the receipt was not issued for public contributions of cash, gold, silver, etc. Receipts were not issued even to devotees who paid ₹10,000 under the scheme where prasadam was delivered to the door, the sources said. People represented that hundi or collection boxes should be set up in the temple premises.

The southern gate through which Nandanar entered the temple was closed by the Dikshithars. Referring to a wall erected there, some petitioners alleged that it was an “untouchability” wall and called for its demolition. People wanted othuvars or traditional singers from Saivaite temples to be appointed to sing Thevara thirumuraigal during the kaala puja, the sources said.

Calling for a count of the idols in the temple, a request was made to allow scholars to research the carvings. An investigation has been called into the disappearance of Andal’s idol and allegations of temple jewelry being taken away by some people. Some worshipers alleged that ₹20,000 was charged for Natyanjali’s event and it became difficult for economically poor people to attend.

Among other requests were receipts for special pujas, archanai and other tickets issued in the temple, setting up a prasadam stall, proper guidelines on the use of the Thousand Pillar Hall , the provision of basic amenities such as drinking water, toilets, etc., for worshippers, especially people with disabilities.

The sources said the HR&CE department forwarded copies of the complaints to the secretary, Podhu Dikshithars, asking for his explanations within 15 days. The notice was published on July 18.