T.N. govt. denies Nirmala’s charge of ban on special pujas in T.N. temples on January 22

January 22, 2024 01:01 am | Updated 02:05 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Tamil Nadu government and Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) P.K. Sekarbabu on Sunday rejected Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s charges that the State had imposed a ban on special pujas in temples on Monday, the day of the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

In a release, the government said it would initiate legal action against a Tamil daily whose report claiming about such a ban was cited by Ms. Sitharaman in a social media post. Dubbing the report as “fake news”, the government accused the daily of publishing the matter to “create confusion among the people and develop hatred against the government.” It said the report was published “intentionally with ulterior motive”.

The HR&CE Department “has not imposed any limitations on devotees’ freedom to offer food, conduct pujas in the name of Shri Ram, or provide prasad in Tamil Nadu temples” on the occasion of Ram temple consecration, said Mr. Sekarbabu. In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), he said any such news was “an attempt at diverting the people’s attention from the DMK’s youth conference in Salem.”

Ms. Sitharaman, in her post, had also alleged that in temples managed by the HR&CE Department, “no puja/bhajan/prasadam/annadanam in the name of Shri Ram is allowed. Police are stopping privately held temples also from organising events.”

Reacting to this, Mr. Sekarbabu said it was unfortunate that people in office were purposely propagating erroneous information. According to officials from the HR&CE Department, temples, including the Erikatharamar Temple in Maduranthakam and Sri Kothandaramaswamy temple in Ayodhyapattanam in Salem district, have lined up special pujas. At Madhuranthakam, a special puja will be held and prasadam will be distributed. At the Salem temple, bhajans will be held after pujas.

“These are the internal matters of temples in which the department does not interfere,” a source told The Hindu. Officials have only been orally instructed not to allowviewing of any programme on TV inside the temple premises. “This could lead to unnecessary complications and disturb other devotees,” the source added. The government said works to the tune of ₹154.90 crore were undertaken in 113 temples during 2022-23 and to the tune of ₹149.95 crore in 84 temples during 2023-24.

Later in the day, Ms. Sitharaman told reporters that she was not spreading rumours. “Mr. Sekarbabu should read the comments under his post. Why did he not openly announce earlier that there was no ban on telecasting the pranpratishtha’ ceremony of Ram temple and conducting special prayers?” she asked. She said that she had received complaints from partymen and the public that police were refusing permission.

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