Manali: Kullu observed a complete shutdown on Wednesday in protest against the government’s decision to take over the Raghunath Temple, which houses a 17th century idol. The cabinet had decided that the temple will be taken over from the existing management and a notice was also served in this regard.

 

Sanatan Dharm Sabha and Kullu residents are protesting the move Kullu deputy commissioner on Wednesday issued a notice to the temple management, to hand over the charge. The cabinet has announced the temple a “scheduled temple” by making it a trust, and Maheshwar Singh and Karan Singh as its trustees.

Maheshwar Singh, MLA from Kullu and scion of erstwhile Kullu state, is the chhadivdar (main server) of the temple and claims that it a property he inherited from his ancestors. “How can the government take over a private property? I will challenge this move legally.” HP government had first expressed its intention to take over the temple and convert it into a trust in December 2014, when the idol of Lord Ragunath was stolen. It is believed that the idol was brought from Ayodhya in 1657. The government had launched a massive operation to recover the theft and help was also sought from Interpol. The idol was recovered on January 23, 2015. tnn

People of Kullu have an emotional attachment with Lord Raghunath. A weeklong Dussehra festivity is organized in Kullu every year where Raghunath is the presiding deity and palanquins of over 200 other deities come to Kullu to pay obeisance to Lord Raghunath. People also celebrate 40-day Holi celebrations with Lord Raghunath. Large numbers of people visit the temple every day for worship.

Sanatan Dharm Sabha president Kamal Kishore said, “Raghunath temple is not a government temple. We celebrate 46 festivals annually in the temple. All deities of Kullu pay obeisance to Raghunath ji. The worship and other rituals in temple are performed in a special ancient manner. We have sent a memorandum to the governor and chief minister. How can anybody hurt the sentiments and faith of thousands of people?”