Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar Temple: A Perfect Example Of How Government Officials Damage India’s Heritage

Source: – Swarajya Magazine.

The Hindu Religious and Charities Endowment (HR&CE) department of Tamil Nadu government has been the subject of many outrages. The department is notorious for careless handling of art and architecture that are centuries old. The officials running the department are alleged to be among the most corrupt and complicit in the irregularities committed in handling temple finances.

Many examples have been provided to demonstrate that the department needs to be quickly relieved of its primary duty of administering Tamil Nadu’s rich temple ecosystem.

The story of Kanchipuram’s Ekambareswarar temple is one such tragic example, where theft and corruption have caused untold damage to cultural and religious artefacts, and even considerable financial loss.

The scams begin as early as 2003 when the Skanda idol that is part of a Soma-skanda bronze work ‘goes missing’. The Soma-skanda bronzes are a well-known icon in South India – it consists of a Shiva, a Parvathi and a child Skanda flanked by his parents. The Ekambareswarar temple too had once such magnificent Chola bronze dated to the tenth century. Suddenly in 1993, the Skanda in the Soma-skanda bronze goes missing. A replacement was kept in its place and devotees have been worshipping it, no questions asked.

How does an entire idol fall off and then go missing? How have there been no investigations? A right to information (RTI) that sought details of the “lost” Skanda idol and all that may have taken place around its loss received a response that does not provide any useful details.

So a part of a tenth-century bronze icon goes missing and life goes on as usual in the temple run by the HR&CE department of the Tamil Nadu government. Police complaints are filed, but largely nothing happens. Nobody seems to have been held accountable for the loss or theft.

Fast forward to 2015, to almost 25 years after the loss of the Skanda icon. The temple priests along with the executive officer (EO) submitted a proposal to the HR&CE commissioner to create a new Soma-skanda bronze idol, as the original metal idol had deteriorated to the point where it could no longer be taken out in procession.

To read full article -> https://swarajyamag.com/politics/kanchipuram-ekambareswarar-temple-a-perfect-example-of-how-government-officials-loot-indias-heritage

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