Work progressing slowly for want of adequate space

Samayapuram Sri Mariamman Temple is a pilgrim centre near Tiruchi that attracts a large number of devotees all round the year. With the presiding deity believed to fulfil the vows of the devotees, its significance as a religious shrine is known to all. But what is less known is the problem being faced in the administration of the temple – particularly crowd management at the small temple.

Basically, the milling crowd at the temple has been a primary problem for the temple authorities in regulating the crowd. One has to reach the temple main entrance through a mandapam where a large number of vendors have set up stalls – selling turmeric, bags, pictures, bangles, ornamental jewellery, compact disc, and other ritual-related or women-centred articles. The mandapam, which is 600 feet long and 20 feet wide, falls under the purview of the Kannanur Town Panchayat. Normally, in historical and ancient temples, the land around the shrine falls under the HR and CE jurisdiction. But, at Samayapuram, the very step outside it falls in the local body.

The transfer of the town panchayat land (‘mandapam’) to HR and CE would go a long way in regulating the crowd, say temple sources, who find it difficult to set up any barricade in the mandapam area. “With the surging crowd going unregulated at the mandapam area, neither the police nor the temple authorities can take any measure to handle the crowd,” sources say. The only solution to the problem could be the transfer of the mandapam area to the temple so that the crowd could be regulated.

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department (HR and CE), in the meanwhile, made an endeavour for providing more amenities to the devotees. One of the schemes aimed at expansion of the “prakarams” so as to ease the movement of devotees in a larger area. The expansion work, among other things, included demolition of the narrow ‘prakarams’ and construction of the new and more spacious ones on the northern and southern side of the temple at an estimate of Rs. 2.20 crore. The width of the prakaram will be increased to 11 metres from the original six metres. “The temple will now get an additional area of 10,000 square feet, a good space for easing the crowd,” say the sources.

But what worries the members of the public and devotees is the delay in the execution of the expansion work. The work was taken up in August 2010 at an outlay of Rs. 15.12 crore, when foundation for the projects, including the expansion of the ‘prakaram’, construction of Amavasai mandapam, Annadhanam koodam, and guest house was laid. Although some progress had been made in other projects, the work on the expansion of the ‘prakaram’ has been going on at a slow phase.