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Tamil Nadu: Over Two Lakh People Of 65 Villages Join Hands To Stop Government From Taking Over Their Temples

Author: Swarajya Staff
Publication: Swarajyamag.com
Date: June 21, 2019
URL:      https://swarajyamag.com/insta/tamil-nadu-over-two-lakh-people-of-65-villages-join-hands-to-stop-government-from-taking-over-their-temples

In a rare display of collective grit, people of over 65 villages in around Melur of the Vellalur Nadu region in Tamil Nadu joined hands to resist a proposed move by the state government to take over centuries-old temples of the local deities, reports Times of India.

The Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments department (HR&CE) wants to take over the administration of the Mandai Kuruppanasamy Temple, Ezhailatha Amman Temple and Valladikarar Temple which have been under the control of the people of these villagers for over 500 years.

The villages, spread over five provinces, are headed by 22 leaders called ‘Ambalathukarars’. The three major temples of the region are administered and managed by these Ambalathukarars.

The predominant Kallar community, which takes immense prestige over the appointment of Amabalathukarar, recently witnessed internal strife as a person belonging to the community moved the court demanding that he be instated to the reputed post against the wishes of many.

Dismissing his petition, the court instructed the HR&CE department to look into the allegations of large scale misappropriation of funds belonging to temples. If that was not enough, a petition urging the department to take over the administrative control of the shrines was entertained.

Taking cognisance of the developments, over 20,000 villagers including women decided to take out a protest march to the department office in Madurai. The assistant commissioner of HR&CE, tahsildar of the block and Melur DSP held extensive talks with the protesters and assured that nothing will happen against their wishes.

“The Vellalur Nadu collective has been in existence for the past 500 years and about two lakh people from the 65 villages offer worship to the traditional deities,” said S Kurinji Kumaran, the Ambalathukarar of Samattikari village of the region, who has been ruling this cluster of villages for over 12 years now.

Clarifying on all the allegations of financial misappropriations, the Ambalathukarar said, “Our temples are administered exclusively on the donations from villagers, who are attached to these temples and no outside donations are accepted. All the heads and village representatives come together to decide on the annual expenditure of the grand annual festival, organised by the temples, which is split among five provinces. Donations are also accepted in the form of rice to feed the people who come to the festival and for the workers.”

The villagers unequivocally said the ownership of the temples should always be theirs and they would not give it away to the outsiders.
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