Temples should not figure in the encroachments list; if the structure must go, then the State government could consult religious heads and look for ways to shift these temples, they said
The ongoing drive to demolish ancient temples with rich histories and legacies, in the name of removal of encroachments, will only result in people losing confidence in the State government, said religious leaders here on Tuesday.
Over the last few days, the State government has embarked on a drive to demolish temples under the pretext of removal of encroachments, hurting the religious sentiments of the majority. In Coimbatore City alone, three temples on the banks of Muthannankulam have been demolished, they charged.While one of the temples is 100 years old, the other one was 125 years old.
The plea has been placed by a federation of Hindu religious heads namely Perur Adhinam Shantalinga Marudhachala Adigalar, Siravai Adhinam Gowmara Mutt Kumaragurupara Swamigal, Manikanda Swamigal of Varahi Peetam and Sri Shivalingeshwara Swamigal of Kamatchipuri Adhinam.
Worshipping gods and goddesses along the river and tank bunds is a Hindu tradition. A building constructed by an individual on or along the water body could be deemed an encroachment, but definitely not a temple worshipped by a community, the leaders said.
Temples should not figure in the encroachments list. If the structure must go, then the State government could consider and consult religious heads and look for ways and means to shift these temples. Under such circumstances, the religious heads would guide them in the shifting of temples adhering to Agama rules.
However, the official machinery was demolishing Hindu temples indiscriminately with scant regard for religious sentiments, while such harsh measures were not adopted in the case of places of worship of other religions. Such actions clearly prove the discriminatory approach of the official machinery, they said.
The 1993 Religious Places of Worship Protection legislation enacted by the Parliament clearly states that places of worship that existed in 1947 during Independence should continue to exist and shall not be disturbed by any one including the State. Hence, the actions in the recent past were in contravention of law. In Hinduism, the dictum is not to live in a place without a temple and all events in the life of Hindus evolve around the temple and taking into account such sentiments, the State government should halt the ongoing demolition drive, the plea added.
Not just in Coimbatore, a 300-year-old Poo Mariamman Temple near Basin Bridge railway station and a 200-year-old Deivamada Vazhavandthal temple in Ilandhiyendal of Madurai district have also been razed down, the religious heads added.
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