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Wedding in Chidambaram temple mandapam sparks row

Devotees feel sanctity of the shrine has been violated

The wedding celebration of the family member of an industrialist from Sivakasi at the famed Rajasabai (the 1,000-pillar mandapam) in the Sri Sabanayagar temple, popularly known as Sri Natarajar temple in Chidambaram, has kicked up a row between devotees and Pothu Dikshithars, the hereditary custodians-cum-archakas who manage the temple.

The industrialist family rolled out a red carpet at the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum and the 1,000 pillar mandapam, decorated with plantain trees, flower garlands and hanging lights for the wedding on Wednesday.

Separate place

The grand celebrations including the seating arrangements for guests at the temple were reminiscent of a palatial marriage hall.

This is the first time that a wedding was held at the Rajasabai though a separate place is available for such functions near the north tower.

A large number of devotees who visited the temple for the darshan of the presiding deity were taken aback when they saw a wedding being held in the mandapam, where only festivals like Arudra Darshan and Aani Thirumanjanam associated with the Lord Natarajar are celebrated.

According to S. Sabesan, a devotee, temples are normally preferred for wedding celebrations by families who have taken a a vow or those who have financial commitments. But allowing a wedding at Rajasabai in the temple has impacted the sanctity of the shrine, he added.

Balaganesh Dikshithar, secretary of Pothu Dikshithars of the temple, claimed that they were not aware that the wedding would be celebrated in such a grand manner. Originally, the party was allotted a site near the Kaala Samhara Moorthy shrine. The temple had arranged consecration of five shrines between 6.15 a.m. and 7.15 a.m. the same day. However, the marriage party sought a more spacious place as they had also planned to conduct ‘Annadhanam’.

“We have convened a general body meeting and will seek an explanation from the Dikshithar who gave the nod for the venue,” he said.

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