Saiva mutt in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Saiva mutts have stepped up a campaign to demand that Kumbabishekams or Kudamuzhukku, which is done in temples usually once in 12 years, be conducted in Tamil in line with a Madras High Court order.

Tamil Nadu: Saiva mutts push for Tamil mantras in Hindu temples

The demand for worship in Tamil comes amid concerns over rising 'Sanskritisation' of temple affairs

Tamil Saiva mutts have stepped up a campaign to demand that Kumbabishekams or Kudamuzhukku, which is done in temples usually once in 12 years, be conducted in Tamil in line with a Madras High Court order.

Kumbabishekam is an age-old Hindu temple ritual that is believed to homogenise, synergise, and unite the mystic powers of the deity. It is part of the consecration ceremony at Hindu temples.

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The demand for the ritual to be conducted in Tamil was forcefully put up at a conference of various mutts held in Madurai on April 9. One of the speakers, Sirvai Mohana Sundaram Adigal of Srivilliputhur mutt, represented Saivism. But others were from sects like the Siddha yogis, those who follow Vallalar alias Ramalinga Adigal, who believe in light as a form of divinity, and Asivagam, a precursor to the later day Jainism.

State level conference conducted in Madurai to push for conducting temple worship and kudamuzhukku in Tamil language.

They condemned the Tamil Nadu government for not implementing a High Court order for conducting temple Kudamuzhukku in Tamil. “That is one of the key issues bringing us together,” Sirvai Sundaram Adigal told The Federal.

Uniting mutts

“The Saiva and Vaishnava mutts of Tamil Nadu are at the crossroads today. We have given a fresh lease of life to Deiveega Peravai (a spiritual forum) by uniting many mutts in this initiative,” he said.

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“The time has come to build a united front to push for Tamil language in temples,” said advocate Tamil Rajendran, who was a petitioner in the 2021 judgment in favour of conducting Kumbabishekam in Tamil.

“We have been successful in ensuring Tamil was part of the Kudamuzhukku of the Thanjavur big temple and the Karur Pasupathinathar temple. This has to be extended to other temples as well,” said a mutt head.

Also at the conference, scholars from various sects urged the Tamil Nadu government to move the Supreme Court to vacate the stay on a scheme to make people from all castes archakas, or temple priests. The state government’s scheme to train people from all castes as archakas was struck down by the apex court. It insisted that the government bring on record the mantras and songs to be included in Tamil worship.

Tamil in temples

Deiveega Peravai is roping in many other sects for demanding Tamil worship to counter what it fears is Sanskritisation of temple affairs.

“Many of the temples consecrated by Siddha yogis didn’t have any Sanskrit worship in the past. We had to fight to ensure Pazhani Muruga temple, consecrated by Siddha yogis, uses Tamil in Kudamuzhukku,” said Rajendran.

“Tamil Nadu never had Sanskrit as the temple’s language before the rise of Jainism and Buddhism in North India,” said Sri Marudhasala Adigalar, head of the Perur Adheenam, which has a recorded history of more than 500 years.

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“So, it’s natural justice to make Tamil the medium of temple affairs. With the arrival of priests who took refuge, Sanskrit also started becoming a part of temple affairs in a few temples. So, either following only Tamil as a medium for temple affairs or having it along with Sanskrit should be the right thing to do,” said the head of Perur mutt.

Rajendran insisted that the movement was not against Brahmins, who perform a majority of the Kumbabishekams, the Sanskrit word for Kudamuzhukku. “We only want those doing the Kudamuzhukku, whoever they are, to do the same in Tamil. We are asking for what is mentioned in the Madras High Court order which allows chanting Tamil mantras, if needed, along with Sanskrit,” said Rajendran.

Teething issues

Tamil Nadu’s six influential mutts, including the much-respected Kundrakudi mutt, are part of the efforts to push for Tamil in temples. But the movement is facing some teething issues. Some mutts with troves of Tamil hymns and songs have joined hands with right-wing Hindu forces that prefer Sanskrit over Tamil.

The original Deiveega Peravai formed in the 1970s had nine mutts in Tamil Nadu. But the present forum has only six. The move by the pontiff of Madurai Atheenam was a setback for Deiveega Peravai.

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Desigar Gnanasambandar, the 293rd head of the Madurai mutt, took part in a conference of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) a few months back and demanded the abolishment of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Board (HR&CE) to “free Hindu temples”.

The demand was in line with what many right-wing forces want in Tamil Nadu. This has put pressure on the remaining heads of mutts to bring together other sects which are supportive of conducting worship in Tamil.

High Court direcive

The Madras High Court, while clearing Tamil for Kudamuzhukku, asked the state government to conduct consultations with stakeholders all over the state on whether Tamil alone or Tamil with Sanskrit should be the medium.

The government, which started the consultations after a delay of two years, has reportedly shelved the meetings as BJP cadres protested against the first meeting conducted in Tirunelveli.

Sri Marudhasala Adigalar, who is part of the committee conducting the consultations, said the first meeting was a goof-up because of poor planning by the HR&CE department. “Yet, only 20-30 of them were creating a ruckus. We received 120 petitions from the consultation process. And the HR&CE department will take action based on the outcome,” he told The Federal.

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