A group of advocates staged a protest in front of Madurai combined district court complex on Friday morning.

This is to demand the arrest of 20 priests belonging to Chidambaram Natarajar temple in Cuddalore for allegedly preventing a woman devotee of scheduled caste form attending a darshan at the Chitrambala Medai in the temple. 

These is in pursuance  20 priests from Chidambaram Nataraja Temple were booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on Wednesday.

The advocates demanded their arrest. They also wanted the government to take control of the temple and ensure that Tamil hymns are allowed to be sung in the temple.

This comes after the priests allegedly stopped Lakshmi alias Jayasheela (36) of Old Bhuvanagiri Road, a woman from the SC community, from attending a darshan at the Chitrambala Medai. 

According to police, Lakshmi stated the priests not only verbally abused her using her caste name but also engulfed her and beaten her 

The 20 priests were booked and further inquiry is on.

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Natraja Temple situated in Chidambaram is a famous temple in Tamil Nadu, attracting devotees from India and across the world. 

However, as part of Covid-19 precautionary measures, many priests decided not to allow devotees to the Chitrambala Medai, where Nataraja Idol is placed for darshan. 

The sanctum is also called Kanagasabhai. However, another group of priests opposed it, creating enmity among them.

This came after the trio did not allow a priest, Sakthi Ganesan, his son another priest Dharshan alias Natarajan  and a woman devotee to enter the Medai. 

An argument broke out between Ganesan and Dharshan along with the trio.  

Speaking to reporters, Dharshan said, “My wish is that everyone should be allowed to go to Chitramabala Medai and pray to Nataraja. The Cholas built this temple, how can the priests stop people from entering Chitrambala Medai? 

Despite the complaints against the three priests,  no action was taken against them. Other priests demand a withdrawal of the complaint.”

Meanwhile, on behalf of the other priests, Ayyappan and Vengatesan told reporters, 

“Some priests are creating a bad name for the temple and its management. There was no partiality or untouchability at the temple. Even Muslims and Christians visit the temple. Considering safety, some restrictions were implemented.”

They alleged, “The woman falsely filed a complaint that she was not allowed because of her caste.  But, based on the majority vote, a decision had been made not to allow visitors into Chitrambala Medai. 

No one has the right to interfere in this.

” A senior police official from Chidambaram said a peace meeting would be held among the priests after the civic polls.

Simultaneously,  three priests were booked by police  for attempted following an argument with two other priests.