Contesting the charge of the Idol Wing, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department has clarified that no gold or any metal had been collected for the casting of new utsava idols of Somaskandar and Elavaarkuzhali Amman at the Kancheepuram Ekambareswarar temple.
A senior official of the Department said that no donor had come forward to donate gold for casting the idols. “Only the priests (archakas) who perform pujas donated a few grams of gold and that too at the time of casting them. We have videographed the process of making the idols,” the official said.
The temple had given funds for the idols — Rs. 2.16 lakh for the Somaskandar and Rs. 1.69 lakh for the Amman idol.
Questioning statements in the media that gold donated by devotees and donors was missing, the official said the sthapathi, who had cast the idols, had charged Rs. 2,500 per kilo of metal and had left the use of gold in the panchaloha (five metal) idol to the temple authorities.
Owing to a 2011 order that gold from temples should not be used for making temple cars, vimanas, kalasams and other items, it was not given from the temple too.
“Neither the temple administration sought permission for collecting gold nor did the Department grant any special permission for the same,” the official further clarified.
‘Probe in initial stage’
When contacted about the investigation, HR & CE Commissioner R. Jaya said that it was the Idol Wing’s business to look into the veracity of the complaint and prove if there was any lacuna.
“We will not interfere with the investigation, which is in the initial stage, and are cooperating with them in every way possible,” she said.
“The investigation should be confidential. We are not defending anyone. If someone has made a mistake, he or she will be punished,” she added.
Other officials in the HR & CE Department said that the idol of Somaskandar was repaired at least thrice since 1987 and only after the sthaanakaarars (priests and devotees and those who helped in running the temple) wrote several times stating that the idol cannot be taken out in procession and repairs cannot be taken up, did a devotee donate a statue.
Since that one was not up to the mark, a new one had to be made.
“The then Commissioner sought to know the correct quantity of metals to be used and the sthapathi had given the mix,” another official explained.
The original idol remained in the safe custody of the temple.