Madurai: Villagers up in arms against Tamil Nadu government’s decision to take over three local Hindu temples

Villagers in Vellalur Nadu village of Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district are protesting against the state government’s decision to take over three local temples. The temples are, the Mandai Karuppanasamy temple, Ezhaikatha Amman temple and Valladikarar temple.

Vellalur Nadu is a collective of about 62 smaller villages, in Madurai. The temples which the government has now decided to take over, had remained under the control of the local villagers for more than 500 years.

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) reportedly learned about huge misappropriation of funds in the three temples and a petition to take them over was filed. Once the villagers learned of this new development, they marched towards the department in Madurai.

More than 20,000 villagers largely constituting of women had gathered for the protest. Shops in Vellalur Nadu remained closed on Wednesday morning. The villagers proclaimed that the temples belonged to them and they would not give it up to the department.

However, officials had held talks with the villagers and heard them out. The villagers were assured that no action would be taken against their wishes.

The three temples are managed by villager non of nominated ‘Ambalathukarars.’ Denying the allegations of mishandling of funds, S Kurinji Kumaran, the Ambalathukarar of Samattikarai said that someone told the HR&CE department that they were handling a lot of funds. However, the temples receive donations solely from the villagers who are devoted to the temple. No outside funds were accepted.