Fleecing ‘pujaris’ irk devotees at Ponnar-Shankar Temple


Indiscriminate encroachment and apparent fleecing have irked devotees of Ponnar-Shankar Temple, which is also known as Periakkandiamman Temple, at Veerappur on the outskirts of Mannapparai.

The temple, associated with the history of Ponnar and Shankar, warrior brothers who lived between 990 and 1020 CE, was believed to have been established several centuries ago. It has a strong following of devotees from Coimbatore, Karur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Dindigul, Tiruchi and other districts of the State. It receives thousands of devotees in the months of March, April, July and other auspicious days and holidays. On auspicious days, the devotees sacrifice sheep and goats as offerings.

While Goddess Periakkandiamman, the presiding deity of the temple, offers blessing to the devotees inside a concrete building, several other deities in standing postures do not have concrete structures.

There are charges against ‘pujaris’ in the the temple, which is yet to be brought under the direct administration of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, that they fleece money from devotees as much as possible. There were many incidents of pujaris entering into arguments with the devotees, who were reluctant to pay money to them. There is no proper office or employees to issue archana ticket or maintain the temple premises neat and clean.

But the pujaris, a devotee alleged, collect between ₹ 300 and ₹500 for archana and up to ₹ 1,500 for sacrificing goats. Financially sound devotees are fleeced more under the pretexts of ‘annadhanam’, performing pujas and buying cement or sand to carry out repairs and maintenance of the temple. Devotees need to pay more for touching the idols of Ezhu Kannimar, Ponnar and Shankar.

Similarly, the public space in front of the Mahamuni and Kottakaruppu sannathis has been encroached to run shops. It becomes a major hurdle to find space for the devotees to sacrifice goats.

Several devotees, who were not ready to spoil their mood when they came to offer dharshan at the temple, post their experiences on the social media. Several of them brought their bad experiences to Collector S. Sivarasu and the HR&CE authorities. Upon receiving complaints, Mr. Sivarasu visited the temple a few months ago and issued an order to install closed circuit televisions to monitor the activities.

“We visit the temple to seek the blessing of our beloved god and goddesses. But the way in which pujaris collect money is really annoying. We often end up spoiling our mood. If the officials visit the temple under the guise of devotees, they can have a feel of the menace. It is high time the HR&CE took control of the temple,” said another devotee.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 9:39:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/fleecing-pujaris-irk-devotees-at-ponnar-shankar-temple/article35512055.ece

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