The authorities, unmindful of the heritage value of various temples had licensed and leased out the temple property as well as the pragarams and verandas of the temples to traders to carry on the trading activity by selling articles which were unrelated and unconnected with the temple and the worshipping public, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court observed.
A Division Bench of Justices T. S. Sivagnanam and S. Ananthi observed that these shops have virtually become shopping centres, if not shopping malls. In spite of the fire incident at the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, people have not learnt their lesson. If this was the case, the sorry state of affairs of the temples cannot be avoided, the judges said.
Insofar as the maintenance of the temples was concerned, it was undoubtedly the duty of the HR and CE Department to maintain the temple and preserve the heritage value of the temple for posterity. But, the HR and CE Department alone was not to be blamed for the sorry state of affairs of the temples.
Due to lack of funds in several temples pujas were not even performed once a day. The temple priests were not being paid on time. The lessees were one of the reasons to be blamed for temples being left without sufficient funds. Several cases were filed by them claiming they were entitled to continue indefinitely in the temple property paying a paltry sum as rent or licence fee, the court pointed out.
The court was hearing the petition filed by K. Suresh. He sought a direction to the authorities to take steps to restore and conduct the pushpanjali rituals at the Adikesava Perumal Temple in Kanniyakumari district. The court disposed of the petition by directing the petitioner to seek the relief by sending an application to the appropriate authority.
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