The restrictions by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) against the Hindu traditions and practices come amidst a backdrop where loudspeakers in mosques and other religious places continue to operate, creating high decibel noise, seemingly exempt from similar regulations. The decision has sparked discontent among devotees, who perceive it as an infringement on their customary rituals, raising concerns about the selective application of regulations in the name of secularism.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government in Tamil Nadu is facing increasing criticism from Hindu devotees who claim the administration is implementing policies targeting temples and hindering traditional practices.
Demolition Of Temples And Increased Entry Fees
Some allege over 250 temples have been demolished in the state during the DMK’s two-and-a-half-year rule, often under the pretext of clearing encroachments. Critics claim mosques and churches encroaching on public land haven’t received similar action despite court orders.
Hike in entry and darshan fees at temples is seen as discouraging devotee visits. This particularly affects poorer sections who have traditionally relied on temples for worship and solace.
Alleged Misuse of Revenue And Plight of Priests
Claims abound that temple revenues are diverted for non-religious purposes, impacting maintenance and rituals. Meanwhile, critics point to government grants and initiatives supporting mosques and churches. Poor salaries and limited support for priests in temples are another area of concern. This raises questions about the welfare of those upholding temple traditions.
Restrictions on Practices and Selective Secularism
The arrest of Hindu Munnani members for chanting “Om Namashivaya” within a temple premise has sparked anger among some devotees who feel their religious practices are being curtailed.
Some allege inconsistencies in the application of secular principles. While chanting “Jai Shri Ram” faced objections in sports events, namaz offered by Pakistani players wasn’t deemed objectionable.
The DMK government has denied these accusations, calling them politically motivated attempts to misrepresent facts. They highlight their efforts to ensure temple safety and maintenance through the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department. They also point to financial assistance provided to temples and welfare measures for priests.
Drums Silenced? Palani Temple Ban on Percussion Inflames Thaipoosam Devotees
As excitement builds for the upcoming Pongal and Thaipoosam festivals in Tamil Nadu, a new development has sparked disappointment and anger among devotees of Lord Murugan. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department of Palani temple has reportedly banned the use of drums during processions on the temple hill, a longstanding tradition observed particularly during Thaipoosam.
Thaipoosam, held on January 25th, 2024, celebrates Murugan’s victory over evil. Devotees undertake rigorous journeys, often carrying “kavadis” – elaborately decorated structures balanced on their shoulders – while chanting “Arohara Muruganukku Arohara”. Percussion instruments, particularly drums, have always been an integral part of this practice, creating a vibrant and rhythmic atmosphere.
However, Assistant Commissioner Lakshmi of the HR&CE department has allegedly declared drumming unauthorized on the temple hill. This news has sent shockwaves through the devotee community, with many expressing their distress and confusion on social media.
Several devotees, in viral videos, have passionately appealed for intervention. One devotee, who has been undertaking the traditional “padayatra” (foot march) for five days, stated, “This is causing us distress. Please help us find a solution.” Another, a devotee for 42 years, emphasized the decades-long tradition and his personal pilgrimage every January. He pleaded, “Our hearts yearn for a solution. Your intervention would bring joy…”
The reasons behind the HR&CE’s decision remain unclear. Some speculate it might be related to noise control or concerns about damage to the temple premises. However, the lack of official communication and abrupt announcement have frustrated and disheartened devotees, who feel their religious customs are being unfairly curbed.
The controversy has gained broader attention, sparking discussions about religious freedom and tradition in public spaces. Social media users are voicing their support for the devotees, while some call for open dialogue and a compromise solution that respects both temple authorities and traditional practices.
மேளதாளம் அடிக்க அனுமதி மறுப்பு.. அத்துமீறும் அறநிலையத்துறை..
அருள்மிகு தண்டாயுதபாணி சாமி திருக்கோயில் பழனியில் மலையின் மேல் மேளதாளம் அடிக்க அனுமதி இல்லை என்று இணை ஆணையாளர் லட்சுமி அவர்கள் கூறியுள்ளார்.
பல குடும்பங்களின் வாழ்வாதாரத்தை பாதிக்கும் இந்த செயலை கண்டித்து விரைவில்… pic.twitter.com/ldAWixrV5I
— Hindu Munnani (@hindumunnani_tn) January 4, 2024
Tensions are rising as hundreds of devotees at the Palani temple allege harassment and restrictions on traditional practices. This follows the announcement of new regulations by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department, prompting concerns and protests.
Devotees claim harassment and pressure by HR&CE officials to make forced donations before accessing the temple. The ban on performing “Karpoor Aarthi” (camphor flame offering) and drumming, a key element of religious celebrations, has angered devotees and affected the livelihood of temple drummers.
Accusations against Assistant Commissioner Lakshmi of disrespecting devotees further inflame the situation. Devotees raise concerns about perceived unequal treatment compared to government aid provided for festivals and maintenance of other religious institutions.
The Hindu Munnani, a Hindu activist group, has announced a protest against the restrictions, highlighting the impact on religious practices and communities. They have also demanded the removal of officials deemed disrespectful.
The Palani temple dispute exposes broader concerns about religious freedom and tradition in India. Finding a solution that respects both temple authorities and devotees’ cultural practices while addressing concerns of inequality and forced donations will be crucial to resolving the current tension and ensuring peaceful religious observances.