This year old news which appeared in Tamil media shows the sad state of affairs of Hindu temples under the control of the TN HRCE.
The idol wing of Tamil Nadu police under the orders of Kanchipuram magistrate inspected the Somaskandar (depiction of Shiva, Parvati along with Kartikeya as a child is usually known as Somaskanda form) murti belonging to the eminent Ekambaranadar temple in Kanchipuram, TN. They found not even a bit of gold in it against the claims of the sthapathi (sculptor) who made it and HRCE officials.
Sometime before 2015, HRCE decided to make a new idol as the old one was very small and damaged. HRCE advertised that devotees who wish to contribute in its making can donate gold to the administration. Many people including foreigners who are ardent devotees of the presiding deity donated gold for the cause. The new idol was made and samprokshanam was done in 2015.
The new idol raised suspicion among the devotees about the amount of gold added in it. They questioned the temple’s HRCE officials about how much gold was received as donation and how much of it was used to make the new murti.
As HRCE didn’t respond to the queries, some devotees took the RTI route to know the truth, which made the HRCE reveal that the idol consisted of 5.75 kg gold. However, there was no answer as to how much gold was received as donation.
Attempts like a police complaint and reaching out to the higher officials of police department also went in vain. Thereafter, devotees filed a case in the sessions court demanding a probe into the matter. The court directed the idol wing team headed by IG Ponmanickavel to investigate and submit a report.
Based on this, local police filed a case on 9 persons including sthapathi Muthaiah, HRCE Executive Officer Murugesan and sthanikar Rajappa and transferred the case to the idol wing. Idol wing team used the BMI machine approved by the Bharatiya government to check the authenticity and standard of gold used in the murti.
Once the tests were concluded, Kanchipuram DSP in his interview to the media said that it was found that there was no trace of gold in Somaskandar and Elavar Kuzhali murtis based on the Positive Metal Image Identification test done on them.
The 1600 year old murti weighing 117 kg must consist 75% (87kg) of gold in contrast to which there was not even 1% of gold. Neither did the new murti weighing 67 kg, which is supposed to consist of 5.75 kg gold, have any trace of gold in it, which proves the report submitted by sthapathi Muthaiah that the new one consists of 5.75 kg gold is untrue.
The DSP further added that the murtis will be taken to the protection centre in Kumbakonam and anti-idol smuggling police wing will continue the investigation. How much gold was received as donation, the value of the gold and other details are still being investigated, he said.
It came as a shock to the devotees that despite receiving lot of gold as donation to make the idol, not even a gram of it was used with gullible devotees being fooled by the HRCE time and again.
(News originally in Tamil, translated by MahaKrishnan. The source tweet thread documents several other cases of loot, mis-governance and dereliction of duty by HRCE)
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