Residents in Tamil Nadu temple angry over eviction noticeSeptember 29th, 2008 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS
Srirangam (Tamil Nadu), Sep 29 (IANS) Over 15,000 residents in this temple town in Tamil Nadu are angry after authorities managing a famous Vishnu shrine served them notices to pay hefty rents or vacate their homes.Residents living in homes within the temple premises said they were being asked to pay rents at the rate of Rs.3 per sq ft, which amounts to approximately over Rs.2,500 per house - a high figure in this part of the town in the suburb of Tiruchirappalli, 350 km from state capital Chennai.
Refusal to pay rent, according to the notice, would entail eviction, they added.
The residents said their families have been living here in homes over a century old, some of which have been refurbished or rebuilt.
“Most of the families have been residing here for over 100 years. Many of us have government-issued pattas (property deeds) since the 1960. How can the (shrine) authorities demand rent from properties they do not own or threaten to evict us for non-payment?” K.R. Iyengar, a resident, told IANS Monday.
The predominantly Brahmin township is foxed by the sudden demand from the management of the Ranganatha Swamy temple, because it is controlled by a trust headed by their own ilk and not by the state government.
“One can understand an atheist government indulging in this sort of thing. We certainly didn’t expect such an act from our own people who believe in the supremacy of the Hindu pantheon,” said K. Prabhakar, another resident.
“The deity here, Ranganatha, is known as ‘Nam Perumal’ or Our Lord. Therefore, it is strange that those who claim to be the servants of a people’s god are divesting them of their property,” complained V. Raghavachari, a septuagenarian devotee who has lived here since his birth.
The authorities refrained from comment.
The temple, built over a 156-acre plot, is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world whose sanctum sanctorum has an icon of reclining Lord Vishnu.
According to legends, Vibhishana, the younger brother of demon king Ravana, placed the icon at the present spot in ancient times. The shrine is believed to have been built in the 12th century.
Apart from having one of the tallest temple towers in the world, the shrine has 20 other spires and its outer walls measure a total length of six miles.
The temple also has a hall with 953 ‘musical pillars’ - often referred to as 1,000 pillars - considered one of the marvels of the world.