#FreeTNTemples: What is it all about?

What is this HR&CE department?

The HR&CE act & department in Tamilnadu has its origins in the British era when Hindu temples were first brought under the Government's control in 1817. Then temples were returned back to the trustees but the Government started taking over Hindu temples with a radical change to the Madras Religious and Charitable Endowments Act from 1935. The idea was basically to loot all the temples’ wealth.

Why should Hindu temples be freed from HR&CE?

First of all, the Indian constitution declares the Republic of India as a secular democracy. By definition, this means that no religion should interfere in Government and the Government should not interfere or control any Religion. So, there is a question of the constitutional validity of the Government controlling Hindu Temples. No Church or Mosque is controlled by the Government — so why should Hindu temples alone be?

  • No maintenance for temple structures
  • No rituals & poojas happening in temples
  • Theft of idols and jewels in temples
  • Encroachments and mismanagement of temple lands
  • Pujaris / Archakas left in the lurch with no salary
  • Very poor experience for devotees due to lack of facilities at temples

No rituals or maintenance processes happening

It is well known that Hindu temples have certain maintenance processes called poojas that need to be done daily, in some cases at least twice a day.

No maintenance of Temple Structures

It is heart-wrenching to see thousands of temples remaining in shambles in Tamilnadu.

  • Temple gopuram is broken
  • Walls are falling off
  • Mandapams are broken or removed completely
  • Temple Chariots are in pieces
  • Temple tanks are abused horribly

Blatant Looting of Temple Properties

As per Government records, out of the 44,000 temples that it has records of, there are at least 34,000 temples earning less than 10,000 rupees per year.

  • Some are encroached by mafia
  • Some land records are changed & sold to private parties
  • Lands & Buildings leased at extremely cheap prices to favorite parties
  • Usurping in the name of fictitious people,
  • Using the temple money for the personal interests of HR&CE officials, etc.

Missing Temples!?

Next is the disaster of complete temples missing.

Photo Credits: The Hindu

Idol & Jewel Theft

Theft of idols and temple jewels is not a phenomenon isolated to the temples of Tamilnadu but it has happened rampantly for decades and right under the noses of the HR&CE officials.

Hungry Archakas & Gluttonous Officials

At this point, one might start thinking, “Why is nobody speaking against such exploitation and bad handling? Surely, the Pujaris or Archakas of the temples must be able to see this and do something about it!”

Gory Experiences Of Devotees

In 2019, the temple town of Kancheepuram was thronged by lakhs of devotees from nook and corner of India for a darshan of the Athi Varadar deity after a long gap of 40 years at the Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple. However, the poor facilities and crowd mismanagement have made what was to be a pleasant experience into a severe inconvenience for the elderly, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.

  • There were only 6 bio-toilets around the temple and they were also not cleaned regularly.
  • Queues were just too long and many had to suffer the hot sun for hours
  • Provision of water was completely insufficient and local residents pitched in to support the devotees passing by
  • For almost a kilometer, pregnant women and elderly people had to walk before they could avail a wheelchair facility

#FreeTNTemples to stop our temples from dying

It is obvious that the TN HR&CE department has failed to properly maintain temple premises or manage the temple assets or simply support the archakas and the devotees.

  • There will soon be no daily maintenance processes held at any of the temples, including simple lighting of a lamp. Such temples will soon cease to be the energy centers that they were created to be.
  • Archakas are already leading a pathetic life under HR&CE’s control. With this present generation of caretakers gone, no one would come forward to take care of temples.
  • Once a temple is without anyone to care and in shambles, people will stop coming to that temple.
  • Somebody would encroach an abandoned temple premise, remove the existing structure or build something on top of it.
  • The death of the temple will be complete with no caretakers from the society and the Government department either too greedy to loot the temple properties or too apathetic towards it.

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Devil’s Advocate

Devil’s Advocate

Seeker for life and interested in truly making India great again …