Tamil Nadu Hindu Temple Protection Committee’s state president C.K.Narasimhachari has claimed that there exists “economic untouchability” in the form of collection of exorbitant fee on various pretexts in the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.
During a conference organised by the Committee on Sunday, he said the purchasing power of the people had become the determining factor to worship God. This practice needed to be curbed and equality should be restored. It was possible only when entry fee was removed and equal space provided for all the citizens to perform worship.
The Committee members also said fee to conduct marriages within the temple had been increased from Rs.100 to Rs.2,000, and this should also go. Free marriages should be conducted for the poor, they said, and demanded permission for organising joint prayers which would bring people from all sections of society under one roof.
Reacting to these charges and demands, a temple official said there were 45,000 temples under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department. Only 60 to 80 temples charged entrance fee.
“If entry per se requires fee then we can say it is discrimination. But there are entries which require fee and there are also free entry points, so it is absurd to call it discrimination,” he said.
Moreover, it was not possible to make VIPs and officials of high ranks wait in queue. Their security was a major concern. Also funds from big temples were used to maintain many small temples under the HR and CE Department and it was only the hundial and ticket fee collection which give us income as income from temple lands was not that high, the official clarified.