Of Secular Carvings, Sacred Spaces and Agama Violations
Dear friends, I am not sure how many of you will be shocked and outraged by what I am about to share with all of you. I was more than shocked and outraged, I was aghast and furious; and determined to do something about this. But first, a sad story of government invasion of sacred spaces (aka “management” of temples by government controlled “Trusts”), “secular” carvings, Agama violations and outrageous “renovations”. As some of you may know, I am very time-constrained at present so this post is more in the nature of rough note based on a few bullet points. It does manage to convey all the relevant points though. Read on:
The Kalamangalam temples in Erode Taluk
- Kalamangalam is located in Southern bank of Cauvery river 15 km from Erode to Karur road. It is one of the traditional “Kaani” Village in Poondurai country out of it 32 Kaanis, since Chera Maharaja times. It comprises 18 villages
- Kulavilakkamman temple (form of Badrakaliamman) is a “Kaani” temple for 18 villages. The village also contains Bhuloganayaki Sametha Mathyapureeswarar temple and Bhudevi Neeladevi Sametha KalyanaVaradharajar temple.
- These temples are managed traditionally by Kanna Gothra Konga Vellalar community (see additional information on the Kongu Vellalar community here; also here)
- The Kulavilakkamman temple is now under the management of HR&CE appointed trustees from Konga Vellalar community, since 1960s.
Apparently, the “commercialization” of the temple and the entry of “politics” into this sacred space started in 2007 when a massive fund-raising drive was launched (with publicity) for the purpose of renovation and consecration of the temple. I do not know exactly how much money was collected but it was enough to do a number of things in the name of “temple renovation”. These included:
- Removal of statues of horses, cows and elephants on the ground that they were not in good condition (but photographs suggest otherwise)
- Removal of the Nagar statues in the north west corner
- Steel roofs around the temple premises that hid the view of the Gopura Kalasam (a major violation of the Agama Shastra; see this and this; also this for more on Agama Shastra)
- Marble flooring that was slippery and another Agama violation
Around the same time apparently, a proposal was mooted to rent out the temple for marriage purposes and charge money for it. You can see some photos of the “work” here.
But worse was to come…
Sometime during the last few years, the eastern doors of the temple were replaced(?) with ones that had carved faces of – among others – EVR (who apparently once garlanded SriRam with a garland of shoes), Mother Teresa, Annadurai and Abdul Kalam (see here). The walls were further defaced by engraving the names of trustees on them.
Worse, the roof angles made for the “godown-like” structures initially carried the DMK symbol, Rising Sun which were eventually removed after opposition from the devotees (pl see pics at the link above & if you wish to see more, pl leave a comment below).
The final aggravating act for the devotees of the Kulavilakkamman temple was the consecration of the temple in February 2011 in violation of the established rituals and Shastras. Apparently, this was done in spite of the entreaties of the traditional Sivacharya.
The temple is a “living” example of Chola architecture and the Vijayanagara style – besides being a few centuries old – and on the basis of being a protected monument, it should not have been violated in this manner. Sadly, people who protested have apparently been threatened with false cases; unsurprisingly, no one is prepared to come out publicly on this. The story would have remain buried among the locals were it not for the effort of some keen Bhaktas who were aghast with these developments and decided to share it with the wider world.
Please share this tale of egregious and outrageous behaviour among your friends and family – especially those from Tamil Nadu. Needless to add, please keep an eye out for any such work or activities in any sacred places you visit. If you spot something like this, pl send me details and I will be happy to share it on the blog. As for this particular matter, a legal case is now being prepared, complaints have been filed and hopefully we will see a resolution in due course. Thanks to Radha-ji for alerting us to this and sharing with the wider community. I have additional photographs and links to some videos of these violations in case anyone is interested.
Related Post: On Ancient Temple, Mosques, Highways and Airports
P.S. Poet Kalamegham of 14th century (who sung like dark clouds lashing rains) lived in this Eswar temple and hence the town was renamed after him as Kalamangalam from Mathyapuri. This village is in centre (madhya) of the river Cauvery’s length & breadth, hence the earlier name.