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Hindus take to streets opposing attempt to rename Chennimalai as Kalwari Malai

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The massive protest in Chennimalai reflects the deep-rooted concerns and sentiments of the Hindu community in Tamil Nadu.

Erode, TamilNadu.

In a strong display of unity, Hindus and devotees of Lord Murugan gathered in large numbers in Chennimalai to voice their opposition to the proposed renaming of the historic Chennimalai Hill as ‘Jesus Malai’ or ‘Kalwari Malai’.

The event saw over 10,000 people from across the state participate in a massive protest aimed at thwarting attempts by a Christian Munnani group to change the name of the Chennimalai Murugan Temple, which has stood for over 300 years.

Chennimalai, situated in the Erode district of Tamil Nadu, holds a special place in the hearts of Hindus and Lord Muruga devotees. It is known by various names, such as Siragiri, Chenniyangiri in Devanagari, and Chennimalai in Tamil. The hill is also referred to as Sigaragiri, Pushpagiri, and Siragiri. Notably, the revered hymn ‘Kanda Sashti Kavacham,’ dedicated to Lord Murugan, was first performed by Sri Bala Devaraya Swamigal at this temple.

The controversy escalated due to the conduct of illegal prayer meetings in Hindu residential areas during the Dravidian Model government regime. These gatherings included disparaging comments about Hindu deities, deeply offending Hindu residents. One such incident occurred on 17th September at the residence of John Peter in Kathakkodi Kaadu, leading to a confrontation between members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Hindu Munnani, and those conducting the unauthorized prayer meetings. John Peter’s video, which threatened Hindus and declared intentions of conversion and renaming Chennimalai, went viral and resulted in the arrest of some Hindu leaders.

On September 26, 2023, during a Christian demonstration, speakers expressed their intent to rename the Chennimalai Murugan temple hill as ‘Kalwari Hill’ and ‘Jesus Hills’. These demonstrations also featured highly offensive rhetoric against Hindu gods and veiled threats against those opposing their plans. These developments enraged Hindu Munnani and other organizations, prompting them to call for a massive protest on October 13th.

The political backdrop is marked by controversial statements made by DMK ministers and MPs, leading to increased tension. Youth minister Udhaya Nidhi Stalin, for instance, compared ‘Sanatan Dharma’ to diseases like Dengue and Malaria, while DMK MP A Raja likened it to leprosy and AIDS, calling for its eradication. These statements received nationwide attention, especially in poll-bound North Indian states, intensifying the sentiments of the Hindu community.

In response to these developments, protesters at the Chennimalai rally demanded that the Tamil Nadu government take action against those responsible for the proposed name change and provocative speeches. They pointed fingers at Tamil Nadu Minorities Commission Chairman S. Peter Alphonse and TN Assembly Speaker M. Appavu, accusing them of supporting activities that lead to name changes and conversions.

Protest speakers raised concerns about what they perceive as attempts by Abrahamic religions to change the names of places related to Hindu legends, especially temples atop hills. They cited instances where unauthorized prayer meetings were held in contravention of the law and rules, and without the permission of the District Collector, new places of worship were established. The protesters warned that they would approach the courts if such attempts continued.

Protesters celebrated their success in preventing the renaming of places with historical and cultural significance, such as Kanyakumari. They highlighted the importance of maintaining the serenity of residential areas by adhering to rules that restrict prayer meetings. In some instances, authorities sealed premises where illegal prayer meetings were held, thanks to public support.

Hindu Munnani raised concerns about alleged encroachments by Christians through the installation of crosses in various places, including Accharappakkam Hill, Thandarai Kuppam Hill, and others. They questioned whether the authorities were turning a blind eye to such violations and called for judicial intervention in cases of apparent disregard for the law.

The massive protest in Chennimalai reflects the deep-rooted concerns and sentiments of the Hindu community in Tamil Nadu. The controversy surrounding the proposed name change of Chennimalai and the inflammatory speeches by some political figures have led to heightened tensions. The protesters are demanding accountability, preservation of cultural heritage, and protection against what they perceive as attempts to change the names of places of historical and religious significance. The controversy is a complex issue that continues to evolve, with legal and judicial avenues being explored as a means of resolution.

Courtesy – Organiser

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