Sabarimala issue is not the first of its kind. Palani temple in Tamil Nadu faced a lot more but never gave up
We all know about the chaos going on in Sabarimala and the adamant nature of Communist Government in Kerala trying to suppress the voice of millions for its own political and communistic gains.
It should be remembered that Sabarimala case is not the first of its kind where Government tried to go against the will of the people and Hindu culture. A very similar case has been active since decades in Kerala’s neighboring state Tamil Nadu. However, the media has never bothered to bring it up because it might add up to the momentum of Sabarimala’s protests.
Palani in Tamil Nadu is a popular temple town with ancient Murugan (Subramanya, Palaniyappan, Velmurugan are the other names) temple. The Moolamurthy (original idol) is thousands of years old and was consecrated by Siddha Bhogar, a saint from the place. When he was roaming in the area, he felt the intense positive vibes in the Palani hill and decided to consecrate a Murti for Murugan atop the hill. He was a chemist too and came up with a unique formula in which nine poisons (Nava Pashana) were combined to make the idol (Murti). These poisons acted as venom if taken individually but were intensely positive and had therapeutic benefits when combined in a specific proportion. He wanted all the devotees to get the benefits of the Murti when they consume the water and milk that was part of the Abhishekam to the Murti. He successfully installed the deity on the hill and assigned the daily Puja works to his disciple Pulippaani Siddhar who followed his orders selflessly for decades.
The temple was later built and renovated by many kings of the region. The 4th-century king Perumal of Chera dynasty was the first king to cut out a pathway to the hill and carry the materials for temple construction. Later, Pandyas rebuilt and extended the temple and the popularity of the temple only grew until the 1970s when the anti-hindu forces targeted the temple because of its immense popularity and associated cultural beliefs.
The following list of incidents summarize the attempts to destroy the temple and the reactions.
- The early 1970s – Several Siddha clinics were established around the Palani hill claiming that the chief priest helped them scraping the Murti and their medicines had traces of it. A strong belief of deceit on priest was seeded along with the rumor that the idol has lost its value/energy. It was later found through the investigation of the State Drug Control Department that the clinics were fraud and no traces of Nava Pashana were found in the medicines.
- 1983 – Several petitions were submitted to the authorities and government claiming that the Murti was in danger and might collapse at any time and it was necessary to replace the murti with a new Panchaloha Murti. It is said that more than 100 petitions were filed with tons of falsified reasons to remove the Murti. Palani was a state level issue by then with several protests in different parts of the state against the petitions.
- 1984 – The then CM of Tamil Nadu MGR (not to forget that the Govt was against Hindu culture with its Dravidian philosophy) declared that the Murti will be reinstalled. Widespread protests across the state forced him to hold and then withdraw the decision. A commission was asked to study the issue. The commission report said there is not a single reason to reinstall the Murti.
- 1994 – The new government headed by Jayalalitha wanted to replay the episode as it was a matter of pride for the government. Protests gained momentum and government changed its stance.
- 2002 – Jayalalitha government started the work of new 200kg Panchaloha Murti and handed the work to famous sculptor Muthaiah Sthapathy and the work was supervised by TN HR&CE department under KK Raja.
- 2004 – A new Murti was consecrated in place of old one in Palani. The original Murti was planned to be smuggled abroad for a hefty after ever increasing protests, the new Murti was removed.
- 2018 – KK Raja and sculptor Muthaiah Sthapathy was jailed on corruption charges and scam. They had cheated government with over one and a half crore worth of gold in the making of new Murti and also involved in the smuggling plan.
The series of incidents that took place against the culture of Hindus and the attack on the belief system shows that there are many unreported cases of an attack on Hindu culture similar to Sabarimala. It is necessary to learn many lessons from the case of Palani today. The temple and the devotees withstood the attack for over 45 years and never gave up. More than 3 governments, hundreds of petitions, indirect attacks, and corruption could not shake the determination of the devotees who could never let go of their beliefs and culture.