Some groups have demanded that the Kumbabishekam – or the consecration ceremony – be conducted in Tamil instead of Sanskrit.

Demand for Thanjavur temple Kumbabishekam in Tamil Court tells TN govt to respondFile Image
news Controversy Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 19:09

The Madras High Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department to file responses in a petition that seeks the Kumbabishekam – consecration ceremony – of Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple to be held in Tamil instead of Sanskrit. The court directed the government of Tamil Nadu, Archaeological Survey of India, the District Collector of Thanjavur, and the temple administrator to file their responses on a petition filed by Senthilnathan of Thanjavur.

In his petition, Senthilnathan said that the Thanjavur temple is the pride of Tamil Nadu and the Tamils, and therefore, the Kumbabishekam must be conducted in Tamil. The temple was built by Tamil king Raja Raja Chola around 1,100 years ago. The Kumbabishekam ceremony of the temple is scheduled to take place on February 5, after many years. However, arrangements have been made to conduct the ceremony without chanting the holy verses in Tamil. In his petition, Senthilnathan also mentioned that he had filed a query with the officials in December regarding this, but there was no response to it.

The case came up for hearing on Wednesday in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court before Justice Duraisamy and Justice Ravindran. The HR&CE department filed a response in the court stating that Tamil hymns will be chanted from February 1 to February 5 and that the arrangements are being made as per Hindu Agama rules. To this, the petitioner’s counsel sought clarity from the department on the Kumbabishekam ceremony. Making a note of the proceedings, the bench directed Secretary and Commissioner of the HR&CE department, the District Collector of Thanjavur, Commissioner of ASI, and the temple administrator to file their responses by January 27.

Controversy broke out a few days ago when DMK President MK Stalin urged that the entire ceremony be held in Tamil instead of Sanskrit. In a statement issued on January 18, Stalin said that the temple was a symbol of Dravidian architecture and hence the Kumbabishekam event must be conducted in Tamil.

Mafoi K Pandiarajan, the state minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, said that while there is no doubt that priority must be given to Tamil, the demand to conduct the ceremony in Tamil has come from a small section of people. “While a ceremony has been conducted over so many years in a certain way, thus becoming a matter of faith in the minds of devotees, I am not sure if a government has the power to change it,” he said, in an interview with Puthiya Thalaimurai.

Meanwhile, the government of Tamil Nadu has formed a 21-member high-level committee to monitor the arrangements for the Kumbabishekam event – which was last done in 1997.

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