In defence of tradition [Excerpt]

Source: – This article is originally published in The Hindu newspaper.

It is four years since the landmark judgment was passed in favour of Pothu Dikshithars of the Chidambaram Sabanayakar temple. The man behind the case has been a crusader for the preservation of heritage structures, especially temples. T.N. Ramesh has taken on the HR & CE Department in several temples and on several issues across Tamil Nadu. A promise he gave Sri Dayananda Saraswati a month before his passing that he would dedicate his life to the protection of Hindu temples and architecture gives him the strength.

The Chidambaram verdict was Ramesh’s first big success in his battle against the HR & CE Department. While the verdict was being pronounced that morning at the Supreme Court, Ramesh was at the Ayodhya Mandapam, in West Mambalam, stalling efforts by the HR & CE Department to take over the Samajam and within an hour of the Supreme Court verdict, the Madras HC had provided a stay to HR & CE Department’s attempted takeover. It was a dual victory for Ramesh that day. In the Chidambaram temple case, Ramesh had to contend with the defence of Subramanian Swamy. So it involved research and investigation spanning over five years.

Selfless service

Says 80-year old M.N. Sivaraja Dikshithar, scholar in multiple languages and who has been with the temple for seven decades: “The families of hundreds of Pothu Dikshithars are grateful to Ramesh, who got back their rights. Many of them went into depression after the 2009 verdict. The selfless service he renders for the cause of temples is rare among those, who expect rewards and glory for even a small achievement.”

Ramesh has since successfully stopped the takeover of five ancient temples in Tamil Nadu including Lakshmi Narasimha Perumal Temple, Chromepet, Kandhaswamy Temple, Kandhakottam and Aiyyapan Temple, Kodungaiyur. He also got a stay on the construction of the Raja Gopuram at the Padalathri temple in Singaperumal Koil and is currently fighting the construction of a new modern Raja Gopuram at the over 1,000-year old Krupapureeswarar temple in Tiruvennainallur near Villupuram. He is confident that the planned construction of the new Raja Gopuram at the Tiruvellarai Divya Desam near Srirangam too will be stopped.

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