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    Dikshitars relent; permit devotees to recite Tamil hymns

    Chennai-Chidambaram (PTI): 'Dikshithars', the custodians of Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, on Wednesday allowed devotees to recite Tamil hymns near the sanctum sanctorum, following which the government ordered release of those arrested in a related scuffle recently.

    Dikshitars took the decision, a day after the state government warned them of stringent legal action if they prevented anyone from reciting the devotional hymns -- 'Dhevaram' and 'Thiruvasagam'.

    The devotees who came to recite the Tamil hymns today were welcomed by the Dikshitars who also garlanded them. In the presence of police personnel, the devotees recited the hymns near the idol of the deity.

    The Shiva temple, located about 140 km south of Chennai, had witnessed unruly incidents on Sunday last when the Dikshitars, a particular clan of Saivite priests, clashed with police while attempting to prevent one Arumugasamy, from reciting the hymns.

    Armed with an order of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department and supported by activists of a human rights group, Arumugasamy had attempted to recite the hymns at the main shrine of the temple. However, his move was resisted by the Dikshitars on the ground that the pujas should be performed only in Sanskrit.

    As many as 10 Dikshitars and 34 activists were arrested on the charges of assaulting the police and triggering "unnecessary violence" on the temple premises.

    Following Wednesday's decision by the priests, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi asked the authorities to take steps to release the arrested. He had earlier reviewed the issue with the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary in Chennai.



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