More than 14,000 petitions levelling serious allegations against the management of Arulmigu Sabanayagar Temple [Chidambaram Natarajar Temple] have been received by an official inquiry committee.
The petitioners, responding to a public notice calling for views, urged the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department to take appropriate action to set right the irregularities.
The Department had constituted an inquiry committee and called for representations from those interested in the “well-being of the temple administration” on June 20 and 21. According to officials, 19,405 representations were received in person or via post/email.
Of these 14,098 petitions pertained to allegations in the conduct of rituals, practices, financial irregularities and other administrative aspects of the temple, sources in the HR&CE Department told The Hindu on Friday.
The common complaint was receipt was not issued for public contributions in cash, gold, silver, etc. Receipts were not being issued even to devotees who paid ₹10,000 under the scheme where prasadam was delivered at the doorstep, the sources said. People represented that hundi or collection boxes should be installed on the temple premises.
The south gate from which Nandanar entered the temple was closed by the Dikshithars. Referring to a wall raised there, some petitioners alleged it was an “untouchability” wall and sought its demolition. People wanted othuvars or traditional singers in Saivaite temples to be appointed to sing Thevara thirumuraigal during kaala puja, the sources said.
Calling for an enumeration of idols in the temple, a demand was made to allow scholars to carry out research on sculptures. An inquiry was requested to be made into how the idol of Andal went missing and also go into allegations of temple jewels being taken away by some people. Some devotees alleged ₹20,000 was being charged for the Natyanjali event, and it had become difficult for economically poor people to participate.
Among other demands were receipts for special puja, archanai and other tickets issued in the temple, setting up of a prasadam stall, proper guidelines on the usage of the thousand pillar hall, provision of basic amenities like drinking water, toilet facilities etc., for devotees, particularly differently abled persons.
The sources said the HR&CE Department had referred copies of the complaints to the Secretary, Podhu Dikshithars, calling for his explanation within 15 days. The notice was issued on July 18.