Don’t want to take control of Nataraja temple, says minister as Tamil Nadu govt carries out inspection

The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday, June 7 carried out an inspection at the famous Chidambaram Nataraja temple, acting on complaints regarding irregularities in the administration of the temple.

The temple was recently in the news after devotees demanded their right to sing hymns in Tamil and gain access to the revered ‘sithambalam medai’ within the sanctum sanctorum, which the priests have held complete control over.

The temple, which was under government control, was returned to the priests by the previous AIADMK government.

Speaking exclusively to India Today, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Minister Sekar Babu said the department has every right to inspect the temple and it is only right on the part of temple officials to cooperate with the inspection of temple records.

He said, “According to the HR&CE rules, all public temples come under their jurisdiction. When there are complaints filed against a temple, then HR&CE has the full right to ask for an explanation and to investigate the matter. Today, based on that, a team has gone to Chidambaram Natajara temple.”

“There is a two-day inspection plan and based on the findings of the team, further action will be taken. HR&CE doesn’t want to take control of the temple. We only want to go in an amicable way with the people’s interest in mind,” he added.

The government had earlier served notice informing the temple authorities to keep ready all details related to revenue and expenditure, audit reports and bank passbooks from 2014.

The notice also sought the details of properties of the temple, details of jewellery and other valuable items and their estimates. The details of land belonging to the temple and lessees and register of lessees were also sought.

However, the Dikshithar Committee, that manages the affairs of the temple, has said the Endowments Department does not have jurisdiction under Section 107 of the 1959 Act.

Reacting to this, Sekar Babu said, “We have the right to inspect and it is not a denomination temple [owned by a particular religious denomination]. So the HR&CE department has every right to inspect the temple.”

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