Thengalai and Vadagalai sects are fighting it out over the participation rights of the mahasamprokshanam puja at the Ranganathaswamy temple

Iyengar sectarianism comes to the fore again in Srirangam one sect to go to courtImage: By Ssriram mt via Wikimedia Commons
news Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 08:50

The Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam is at the centre of an old controversy yet again – the Thengalai and Vadagalai sects are fighting it out over the participation rights of the mahasamprokshanam puja at the temple, reports the Times of India.

According to the report, priests belonging to the Thengalai sect plan to drag to court members of the Vadagalai sect who insist that they should be part of the yagasala puja. Thengalai sect members cited an old court order saying the Vadagalai sect did not have the rights to be part of the puja.

The report says,

During the yagasala puja in the temple on Monday , priests belonging to both the sects exchanged heated arguments.The altercation didn't last long as the members of the Vadakalai sect were allowed to be part of the puja. This was done so the puja was not disrupted since it marks the beginning of the mahasamprokshanam. In yagasala puja, verses from the “4000 Divyaprabandham“ and Vedas are chanted for more than three hours.

Citing a verdict of the court of the district munsif of Turaiyur in 1941, Parthasarathy , a Thenkalai priest, said: “Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is among the temples in the state that follow Thenkalai tradition of worship where only Thenkalai priests are entitled to chant Veda parayanam.“

“This has been the case in each festival happening in the temple over the past few years and to put an end to the whole row we are planning to take up the issue to the court,“ said Parthasarathy .

But the Vadagalais are not budging. They agree that the other group has the right, but insist that they too can be a part of it. ToI reports,

Members of the Vadakalai sect agree that the Thenkalai sect had the right to perform the daily “Thiruvaradhanana“ service offered to the presiding deity . But they said they should be part of the Veda parayanam service since it was performed when the deity is taken out in a procession.

“The yagasala puja was happening outside the temple in the 1,000-pillar hall. We tried to exercise our duty only to be questioned by Thenkalai sect as they have been doing always,“ said V Kannan, secretary of Vadakalai Palaya Veda Parayana Adhyapaka Ghosti.

Such sectarian battles are not new to the Vaishnavite sect. The two group have doctrinal differences dating back several centuries, and are known to fight over temple-issues in several parts of south India. You can read about it here.

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