Taking precautionary steps after a couple of fire accidents in some of its temples, the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department has banned the lighting of lamps within the premises of any of the 36,000 temples under its supervision. However, devotees will be allowed to light sesame (gingelly/til) lamps for Lord Saneeswara at Navagrahas.
Tamil daily Dinamalar reported that HR&CE Commissioner R Jaya as saying that priests would conduct lamp poojas inside the temples as usual.
The ban on lighting lamps came into force from June, though it has come out in the public only now. Last month, a staff of Chennai Koyambedu Kurungaleeswarar temple told Swarajya that a big lamp will be put up at a safe spot where devotees can pour oil to ensure it keeps burning.
In February this year, two major fires accidents were witnessed. One was at the Madurai Meenakshi temple where 30 shops were gutted after a fire broke out in a toy shop inside the Thousand Pillar hall. On 8 February, another major fire broke out at Vadaranyeswarar Temple at Thiruvalangadu, some 50 km from Chennai, gutting a 1,000-year-old banyan tree known as sthala vruksham or the tree that is most sacred for the temple.
Poor facilities in temples to check accidental fire have also resulted in the HR&CE coming up with this ban.
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