The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi has appealed to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to arrange for regular opening of the south entrance to the Natarajar temple at Chidambaram that has remained closed for years.
The VCK cadre staged a demonstration at Chidambaram on Tuesday. The speakers pointed out that a stigma was still attached to the entry of Nandanar, a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva belonging to the Adi Dravida community, through this entrance to the temple.
As the practice of untouchability was at the zenith those days, the Podhu Dikshithars, who were managing the temple affairs, deemed it irreligious to keep the entrance open.
Since the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department had taken over the temple it must ensure that all the four entrances to the temple were kept open, and no discrimination was shown against any caste or community in offering worship.
The government should also see to it that full democracy was restored in the administration of the Natarajar temple and all discriminatory practices based on caste and community were eliminated.
They said historical facts about the temple should be brought to light. There were references that the place of worship originally belonged to and was managed by those who professed Buddhism. Therefore, it was only proper for the government to abolish the practice of leaving it to the Podhu Dikshithars to conduct the rituals. It should appoint archakas of all castes to the temple.
They said that the Natarajar temple was a major tourist attraction with devotees from almost all parts of the country visiting. It should be developed on the lines of the Tirupati Tirumala temple and the Sri Aiyappan temple to augment its revenue.
The speakers made a strong case for retrieval of vast stretches of temple lands that had been encroached upon. Unauthorised constructions around the temple should be removed.
They pointed out that since the region was educationally backward, particularly in women literacy, the government must establish a women’s university at Chidambaram.
Those who spoke included D. Ravikumar, MLA, and party functionaries. They handed over a memorandum to the administration.