Chennai. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department has decided to strictly enforce the ban on the use of camphor in temples, especially in sanctum sanctorums, for performing ‘aarti.’
Even now, many temples under the control of the Department have not been using camphor for ‘aarti.’ It is perhaps for the first time that the ban is sought to be enforced systematically.
The reason cited in a recent circular sent by the office of Additional Chief Secretary looking after the Departments of Tourism, Culture and Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments to the HR and CE Commissioner is that camphor causes pollution and becomes a health hazard as it is a chemical product. However, the communication does not restrict the use of natural camphor (paccha kalpooram) though it is used only for consumption. The communication wants action for violation of the ban.
Balaji Bhattar, a priest at the Parthasarathy Temple at Triplicane and whose family has been serving the temple for several generations, has welcomed the decision. He says the use of camphor in sanctum sanctorum causes priests health problems.
However, S. Vedantam, managing trustee of the Village Temple Priests’ Association and former international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has wondered how such a decision, which has a bearing on the sentiments of people and traditions, can be taken without taking all stakeholders into confidence. He wants the government to consult the heads of religious institutions and experts in temple practices and rituals before implementing any such decision.