Yesterday villagers of Vellalur Nadu held a protest against the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department’s decision to take over three ancient temples. The temples are, the Mandai Karuppanasamy temple, Ezhaikatha Amman temple and Valladikarar temple. Vellalur Nadu is a collective of about 62 villages in and around Melur, in the district of Madurai. The temples had been under the control of these villagers for nearly 500 years.
As per reports, the HR&CE department was informed of large-scale misappropriation of funds belonging to the temple. A petition had been filed to take over the temples. After finding out this the villagers had set out on a protest march towards the department in Madurai.
Over 20,000 villagers mostly constituting of women had gathered for the protest. Shops in Vellalur Nadu remained closed on Wednesday morning. The villagers proclaimed that the temples belonged to them and they would not give it up to the department.
However, officials had held talks with the villagers and heard them out. The villagers were assured that no action would be taken against their wishes.
The three temples are administered and managed by ‘Ambalathukarars’ who are nominated by the villagers themselves. S Kurinji Kumaran, the Ambalathukarar of Samattikarai had said that someone told the HR&CE department that they were handling a lot of funds. However, the temples receive donations solely from the villagers who are devoted to the temple. No outside funds were accepted.
In an earlier allegation of receiving large donations through hundi collection, the villagers decided to do away with hundi collection in these temples over a decade ago.
In April, the Supreme Court had questioned the rationale behind government officials managing religious places and temples in the country. Amidst rampant idol thefts from the temples in Tamil Nadu, the state government had decided to transfer all such cases to the CBI.
Recently, the Telangana government had decided to take action against illegal occupants of about 20,000 acres of Temple land.