Court order ends an era in Chidambaram temple
source : The Hindu, February 8, 2009
Chidambaram (PTI): It was an end of an era in the 1500-year-old Chidambaram temple with the Madras High Court rejecting the plea that it was a private temple, paving way for direct state administrative control.
The centuries-long hold of Podhu Dikshitars on the temple, a small well-knit Brahmin community which believes that its forefathers have directly descended from Lord Shiva's abode Mount Kailas to administer the Chidambaram temple, has finally ended last week following an order of the Madras High Court after a prolonged legal battle.
Justice R Bhanumathi's order rejecting the plea of the 3000-strong Dikshitars community that the 5th century AD temple was a private one and they had 'untrammelled rights', paved the way for direct administrative control of the state government. She upheld the appointment of an executive officer to administer the temple.
The temple with its four imposing towers rising 175 feet above the ground has a unique place in Hindu mythology as it holds the key to 'Chidambara rahasym' (secret of Chidambram). A small corner next to the idol of Lord Nataraja has a curtain with a golden garland in the shape of 'bilva' leaves, which according to scholars, is an example of permeating omnipresence of God.
Dikshitars who were not willing to give up their traditional hold on the temple have gone in for an appeal to the larger bench of the High Court.
C Navathandava Dikshitar, President of Thiruchitrambalam Annathanam Arakkatali Trust, said Dikshitars have been performing poojas and selling prasadams for many centuries and blamed the politicians behind the government's resolve to take over the temple.
The legal tussle began years ago when the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department appointed an Executive Officer (EO) to administer the temple which was challenged by the Dikshitars.
HR and CE officials said and EO had already been posted and he functioned from outside the temple and moved in, to takeover after the court's order.
The Janata party and Hindu organisations have opposed government taking over of the temple.
The ruling comes as a shot in the arm for the state government whose EO has been functioning from outside the temple for the past 20 years, after the Dikshitars declined him entry and challenged his appointment made in 1987, claiming full rights by virtue of maintaining the temple.