Priests Adorn Idol With Salwar, Sacked

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Tamil Nadu: Two priests of the famous Mayuranathar temple in Mayiladuthurai were removed from service on Monday after they decorated the idol of the presiding deity in salwar kameez.

It is usual practice in the temple to perform sandhana kaapu to the idol of Goddess Abayambigai and drape her in colour paper every Friday. Stretching the practice a bit, priest Raj, last Friday, changed the attire of the Goddess from saree and adorned the idol in a pink salwar kameez and blue dupatta.

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Raj is the son of senior priest Kalyanam and was appointed in the temple in August last year to help his father.

The overenthusiastic act of the two priests, of giving make over to the idol, landed them in trouble as Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, which has administrative control over the temple, sacked them in the after they recieved backlash from devotees. The Mutt administration has come to the decision of dismissing the priests after the criticisms aired by the devotees and senior priests of the 1000-year-old temple.

Speaking to Express S Ganesan, Administrator of the Temple said, “The priest behaved in this manner without realising the implications of his actions. When we questioned them, the duo accepted it was a mistake. Since many devotees opposed their actions, which was also against Aagama rules, we terminated Raj as well as his father Kalyanam.”

The photo of Goddess Abayambigai in a salwar kameez went viral after Raj allegedly sent it to few of his friends in media and sought publicity.

According to devotees of the 1000-year-old temple, Raj hankers after publicity. “A few months ago, Raj gurukkal decorated the Nandi idol with 15,000 currency notes of `100 denomination. At that time, his act drew praise from several devotees and locals. But now he has landed in trouble” said a Photojournalist of Mayiladuthurai.

When contacted, Raj told Express that no one induced him into this act. “I just wanted to decorate the goddess in a different way, which has hurt the sentiments of the devotees that come to worship here everyday. I accept that I made a big mistake. Through this newspaper I want to clarify to the devotees that “I do not have any intention to tarnish the glory of the temple. I seek their forgiveness,” said Raj.