CUDDALORE: Around 20 priests from Chidambaram Nataraja Temple were booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on Wednesday.
This comes after the priests allegedly stopped Lakshmi alias Jayasheela (36) of Old Bhuvanagiri Road, a woman from the SC community, from attending a darshan at the Chitrambala Medai. According to police, Lakshmi stated the priests verbally abused her using her caste name. The 20 priests were booked and further inquiry is on.
Natraja Temple situated in Chidambaram is a famous temple in Tamil Nadu, attracting devotees from India and across the world. However, as part of Covid-19 precautionary measures, many priests decided not to allow devotees to the Chitrambala Medai, where Nataraja Idol is placed for darshan. The sanctum is also called Kanagasabhai. However, another group of priests opposed it, creating enmity among them.
Three priests booked for attempted murder
Simultaneously, on Sunday, three priests were booked for attempted following an argument with two other priests. This came after the trio did not allow a priest, Sakthi Ganesan, his son--another priest Dharshan alias Natarajan- and a woman devotee to enter the Medai. An argument broke out between Ganesan and Dharshan along with the trio.
Speaking to reporters, Dharshan said, "My wish is that everyone should be allowed to go to Chitramabala Medai and pray to Nataraja. The Cholas built this temple, how can the priests stop people from entering Chitrambala Medai? Despite the complaints against the three priests, no action was taken against them. Other priests demand a withdrawal of the complaint."
Meanwhile, on behalf of the other priests, Ayyappan and Vengatesan told reporters, "Some priests are creating a bad name for the temple and its management. There was no partiality or untouchability at the temple. Even Muslims and Christians visit the temple. Considering safety, some restrictions were implemented."
They alleged, "The woman falsely filed a complaint that she was not allowed because of her caste. But, based on the majority vote, a decision had been made not to allow visitors into Chitrambala Medai. No one has the right to interfere in this." A senior police official from Chidambaram said a peace meeting would be held among the priests after the civic polls.