Annamalai’s Padyatra: Advocating for Tamil Nadu’s Temples and Cultural Heritage

In his “En Mann En Makkal Yatra,” Tamilnadu State Bharatiya Janta President K.Annamalai addressed a large gathering in Avinashi, a temple town, on October 16, 2023. The event’s chief guest was Mr. Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Textiles, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution.

Annamalai commenced his speech by seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva (Avinashilingeswarar), the presiding deity of Avinashi town. He shared the belief that when a new Mysore kingdom king ascends the throne, they establish a new lingam in Varanasi and perform the pooja for the same lingam in Avinashi temple before ascending to the throne. It is said that visiting Avinashi is akin to visiting Kashi.

He brought attention to a disturbing incident that occurred at the 1000-year-old Avinashilingeswarar temple on May 22, 2023. Upon opening the sanctum sanctorum, temple priests were dismayed to discover attempted thefts in the temple. The temple’s Kalashams had been broken, and there were signs of attempts to break the temple’s hundis (collection boxes). Hindu organizations organized a procession demanding a fair inquiry into the incident.

Annamalai also highlighted troubling statistics concerning Tamil Nadu’s temples and the management of their resources:

  • He mentioned that according to the official records of THE TAMIL NADU HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS from 1992 to 2012, approximately 1,200 idols have gone missing from Tamil Nadu temples. Of these, 830 were stone idols, while the rest were metal idols (including an alloy of 5 idols known locally as Aimbon).
  • In the 1985-1987 Tamil Nadu Government Policy Brief, it was noted that there were 5.25 lakh acres of land for temples managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments. However, the current Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister, Mr. Shekhar Babu, announced that there are only 3,43,647 acres of land. Approximately 2 lakh acres of temple land have gone missing. Annamalai accused THE TAMIL NADU HINDU RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ENDOWMENTS of being responsible for this land theft.

These alarming figures supported the claims made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, during a rally in Nizamabad, Telangana, mentioned that the state government in Tamil Nadu was taking control of temples and misappropriating their wealth.

Annamalai also highlighted the impressive performance of Prime Minister Modi in recovering valuable artifacts for the country. While only 13 lost idols were repatriated from foreign countries between 1976 and 2013, 228 ancient idols and artifacts have been recovered since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.

Annamalai pledged that when the Bharatiya Janata Party forms the government in Tamil Nadu, all necessary measures will be taken to safeguard temples and recover lost temple lands.

The audience responded positively to Annamalai’s speech and was delighted when it began to rain during the Padayatra. Avinashi holds a special connection with rain, as special prayers were conducted at Avinashi Temple on May 6, 2019, when the state was facing severe water scarcity. The Padayatra attendees witnessed rain as a befitting response to those who had previously mocked this practice as superstitious.

The Padayatra was graced by the presence of Union Minister of State of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying L Murugan, National President of BJP Mahila Morcha and Coimbatore South MLA Mrs. Vanathi Srinivasan, Modakurichi MLA Mrs. Saraswathi, and other distinguished guests.

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