Devotees at the Palani Dandayuthapani Murugan Temple in Tamil Nadu on January 3, 2024, were allegedly manhandled and assaulted by temple staff, sparking outrage and accusations against the state’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government. This incident comes amidst heightened tensions following a recent Madras High Court order mandating notice boards in temples restricting entry to non-Hindus and non-believers.
According to reports and social media videos, devotees were pushed and roughed up by temple staff, leading to strong condemnations from Hindu groups. The Hindu Munnani, a prominent Hindu organisation, condemned the incident and called for an immediate investigation.
In Srirangam, a Sabarimalai devotee from Andhra Pradesh was reportedly severely attacked by outsourced security personnel, identified as party cadres and individuals from different religious backgrounds. The assault resulted in visible injuries and bleeding.
Amid the global celebration of the Prana Pratishtha ceremony on January 22, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu initially orally denied permissions for poojas (rituals) and Anna Dhan (food offerings) in temples. Following orders from both the Supreme Court and the High Court, permission was reluctantly granted. However, processions were still restricted across the state.
In a separate incident at the Palani temple earlier this month, devotees were allegedly obstructed from chanting, playing Nagaswaram, and performing drum rituals. Hindu Munnani, a Hindu organisation, strongly condemned these actions.
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
The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department in Tamil Nadu faced criticism when worshippers were purportedly charged Rs1000 for mobile phone safekeeping, contrary to an initial notification indicating a fee of Rs5. Following completion of the darshan, over 200 devotees confronted temple staff, engaging in a heated verbal exchange over the exorbitant charges. The situation resulted in a reduction to Rs 500, accompanied by a warning that those unable to pay would be placed in the donation box.
பழனி முருகன் கோவிலில் செல்போன் கொண்டு வரும் முருக பக்தர்களிடம் செல்போன்களை பிடுங்கி ₹1000 கொடுத்தால் தான் செல்போன் திருப்பி கொடுக்கப்படும் என்று அறநிலையத் துறை அதிகாரிகள் அத்துமீறல். 😡
— Karthi 🇮🇳 (@SaffronSurge3) January 16, 2024
Justice S Srimathy, addressing a petitioner’s concerns, declared that the issue was more extensive and should be applied uniformly to all Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. Consequently, she directed authorities to implement the specified guidelines across all Hindu shrines. Prior to this, the DMK government presented forceful arguments, emphasising its secular nature and expressing concerns about potentially hurting minority religious sentiments. The government seemed less attentive to the concerns of Hindus, for whom temple income holds vital significance.
The counsel for respondents presented counterarguments, citing examples from temples like Arulmighu Ranganathaswamy Thirukovil Srirangam, Arulmighu Sowriraja Perumal Tirukkannapuram, and Bhuvarahaswamy Temple Srimushnam. Instances were highlighted where non-Hindus actively participate in worship rituals, underscoring the diverse and inclusive practices within Hindu temples. The counsel asserted that, as a secular government, both the state and temple administration have a duty to safeguard citizens’ rights. They argued that displaying notice boards prohibiting non-Hindus would potentially hurt religious sentiments and contradict constitutional rights.
Even before the day concluded, another incident at the Palani temple stirred strong condemnation from devotees across the state. Reports allege that the temple administration arranged a special route for Erode devotees carrying Kavadi, a ceremonial offering. Tensions escalated when Edappadi devotees, seeking to bypass a lengthy waiting period, attempted to use the designated route for Erode devotees. In the ensuing altercation, A Chandran, a devotee from Edappadi, was reportedly dragged, beaten, and suffered a fractured skull at the hands of temple guards and authorities.
Both Chandran and his son, injured in the incident, were admitted to the Palani Hills Temple hospital and are undergoing treatment. Outraged by the violence, over 500 Edappadi devotees staged a protest, demanding action against the security guards involved. The temple authorities assured the suspension of those responsible, leading some protestors to disperse. However, a faction remained adamant, insisting on accountability for the security guards.
These incidents have added fuel to the existing legal and communal tensions surrounding the Palani temple. Devotees express growing concerns about the temple’s management and the protection of their religious rights.
— News Tamil 24×7 | நியூஸ் தமிழ் 24×7 (@NewsTamilTV24x7) January 30, 2024
Several incidents in Tamil Nadu are highlighting concerns over the functioning of the Dravida model minority appeasement DMK government, raising questions about its approach to religious and civic issues.
At Veerbadra Swamy Temple premises in Paradanna School Village, Tirupatur district, the temple management cancelled a volleyball match despite opposition from devotees who expressed concerns about potential issues for women and children. Devotees also voiced apprehension that Muslims might attend the event in a drunken state.
In Edaiyarpalayam, the police permitted a Periyar Dravidar Kazhaga event where speakers made disparaging comments on Lord Muruga. However, Hindus gathered in large numbers, disrupting the event and forcing the speakers to leave.
In Mettupalayam Thekkam Patti village, an illegally constructed mosque was inaugurated recently for the benefit of ten Muslim families. While approval was obtained for residential purposes, the structure was converted into a mosque and equipped with government-provided power, water, and other infrastructural facilities.
In another instance, on the 26th, police denied permission to unfurl the national tricolour following opposition from Christians. Additionally, permission for the Paravai Kavadi in Thiruchendur road near Mani Aiyar Hotel was denied, leading to devotees conducting a road roko.
A mosque in the middle of the road remains untouched, and a new bus stand has been opened without removing it, causing vehicles to take circuitous routes. Despite court orders, the DMK government has not removed mosques or churches built in water bodies or government lands. However, it has diligently obeyed orders in the case of Hindu temples.
Following a High Court order, the Greater Chennai Corporation plans to remove a structure constructed by a temple management in Villivakkam. Despite not posing hindrance to vehicular traffic, the corporation asserts the removal is in compliance with a three-year initiative to allegedly dismantle over 200 temples across the state, citing encroachments.
These incidents underscore the ongoing debates surrounding the DMK government’s stance on religious and civic matters, sparking concerns among various communities about the preservation of their rights and cultural practices.