Saturday, 1 February 2020

Big temple, Thanjavur, TN and language issue over consecration - court rejects plea of recitation only in ''Tamil''

1000 plus year old Brihadeeswara temple Thanjavur.TN alamy.com
1000 plus year old Brihadeeswara temple with inscriptions Thanjavur. alamy.com
A language  controversy  cropped up over the conduct of kumbabishekam slated for the 5th February  at the famous Shiva shrine in Thanjavur -  Sri Brihadeeswara temple by  certain Tamil chauvinistic groups  who pride themselves as the savior of Tamil language and Tamil culture. The general public and many Hindu religious groups  were quite sore over the time of protest because the consecration will be held pretty soon - on February 5th after a long gap of 23 years.  They asked sharp  questions: Where were these groups when the old highly valuable bronze idol of Sri Rajaraja Chola I, the builder of Big temple, had been  missing from the temple for several decades? Did they ever express their concern  and dismay over  ancient Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu whose big entry halls were converted into mini bazaar? Only last year the idol of Raja Raja was retrieved by the TN Govt's special police team.  Many critics are of the view that these  small groups  secretly backed by some  anti-Hindu political parties insisted that the consecration (Kudamuzhukku) should be conducted only in Tamil as purportedly prescribed by the builder of the temple Sri RajaRaja Chola. The people in general argue, they have no solid reason for their protest and the aim is to disrupt the main holy ceremony, smooth conduct of the rituals and give headache to the ruling ministry.  They use some kind of pretext to create an unpalatable atmosphere  and cause confusion among devotees.  Already both Tamil and Sanskrit are being used for  such a ceremony  as per temple Agama Sastras at many Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. 
old image of Thanjavur big temple. you tube.
There is no deviation from the old tradition that needs to  be continued in this historical temple.  Across  India except at  some Hindu temples, Sanskrit is primarily  used for pujas and other rituals. This is also true of Tamil Nadu temples many of which come under the purview of Agama Sastras.  However, there are provisions to conduct puja in Tamil upon request by the devotees. 
These small groups and several individuals filed PIL in the Madurai branch of Madras High court seeking direction  to the HR & CE  to use  only Tamil in the consecration ceremony. Yesterday (Friday) the Madurai High Court  dismissed a batch of petitions that sought a direction to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department to conduct the consecration of the Thanjavur Big Temple with the recitation of only Tamil verses. 


old image of Thanjavur big temple, TN.  alamy.com
Big Nandi, bull, Thanjavur big temple, TN flicker.com
The court took into account the arrangement made at the temple for the consecration  and the proposal to give Tamil language due prominence as per the 'Agama' principles as done earlier.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Duraiswamy and T. Ravindran observed that ''the proposed consecration ceremony and other functions scheduled for February 5, would be conducted by reciting only Sanskrit verses. The petitioners have not placed any convincing proof to support why the consecration ceremony should be conducted and performed only in Tamil language, other than barely mentioning the same''.  Taking into account, the counter filed by the HR & CE (Govt. dept. in charge of Hindu temples) court further observed that 
''various rituals and pujas were being done in the temple in accordance with the agama principles. Tamil was given its due place, particularly by chanting Tirumurai''.As for disposal of Dhaanam and gifts, the court said ''each and every worker participating in the function would be receiving it, irrespective of caste or creed. There was no infraction of the Constitutional norm''.

Consecration work.Thanjavur big temple TN timesofindia.indiatimes.com
The court expressed their firm view: “We are of the considered view and opinion that the court should be hesitant and reluctant to interfere with religious functions and ceremonies of temples, unless a strong case has been made out and established that the religious practices and functions of the temples are violative of the provisions of the Constitution,” 

The court is of the view that ''we do not deem it fit and appropriate to interfere with the religious functions and ceremonies of the temple in question by giving any direction qua the performance of the consecration ceremony on February 5".

The court directed the authorities  - HR & CE to file a compliance report on the conduct of the consecration of the Brihadeeswara temple, as proposed by them in their affidavit  within four weeks.
https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/02/01/Madras-HC-rejects-plea-to-conduct-temple-consecration-in-Tamil.html
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/court-rejects-pleas-to-recite-only-tamil-verses-at-thanjavur-big-temple

 https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/madras-hc-reserves-orders-on-pleas-on-big-temple-event/articleshow/73745699.cms