Taking cognizance against the spate of fire mishaps in Tamil Nadu, the HR & CE (Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department) has banned the lighting of lamps inside the temples of Tamil Nadu. As per reports from Dhinamalar, the ban will be applicable for more than 36,000 temples across Tamil Nadu with an exception to Lord Shanishwara Temples, where devotees are allowed to light sesame oil lamps at the vicinity where Navagrahas are placed in the temple.
Earlier in February-2018, the temples were asked to obtain a fire stability certificate to prevent any fire related accidents. The HR & CE department had cautioned against using large quantities of oil/ghee as considerable heat is generated.
Devotees light many kinds of lamps which include sesame seeds wrapped in a cloth inside the temples near various sannidhis.
HR & CE department has asked the trays of lamps to be placed near the Dwajasathambam as it would be easier to douse of the fire in case of a fire eruption. The electrical wiring of the Temples was also under scrutiny by HR & CE department to ensure all the temples get it checked and get a fire stability certificate.
This move to ban the lighting of lamps inside the temple comes after major fires broke out in the famous Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. More than 30 shops bore the brunt of the fire.
Another fire broke out in the Sri Vadaranyeswarar Temple – close to Chennai. The temple was built by the Cholas in the 12th century and regarded as a sacred Shaivite temple.
The fire gutted down a 1,000 year old banyan tree which was worshipped all these years and considered sacred for the temple.
The fire department is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that such accidents do not happen in the temples. A series of fire drills across major temples; ensuring the availability of fire fighting equipment; sand buckets and fire hydrants are being checked across by both Fire and HR & CE department.