Recently, there was a fire accident in the famous Mandaikadu Bhagavathi Amman temple in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu. To know the deity’s thoughts, Deva Prashnam, a form of horary, was conducted. The Deva Prashnam revealed the absolute state of indifference suffered by the Hindu temples in Tamilnadu. From selling Amman’s gold and silk to making her wear impure vastram, the various activities Amman unveiled in the Prashnam laid bare the mismanagement in temples controlled by HRCE.
Amman also took offence to the neglected state of the temple tank and lack of interest in organising the Utsavam (annual festival) with enthusiasm. The temple tank is spread over a 1.5-acre land and is twenty-five feet deep. The temple tanks in Tamilnadu have been necessary for the recharging of the groundwater aquifers and absorbing the floodwaters during the monsoon, thus nourishing society’s water needs.
The temple ponds in Kanyakumari were built by the erstwhile Travancore Maharaja, while Kanyakumari was still a part of Travancore. They used the water flowing from the Pechiparai reservoir in the western ghats to fill the temple tanks of Kanyakumari with water. So first, the Kumarisal pond in Madhavapuram near Kanyakumari is filled. From there, the water reaches the Kanyakumari Bhagavathi Amman temple tank through the Papanasam canal. The canal is an open canal that now remains encroached from Madhavapuram to Kanyakumari Church road.
The garbage dumping and construction activities in the Papanasam canal by the encroachers obstruct the water flow to the temple tank. Besides, the temple tank isn’t adequately maintained either. The inlets of the tanks, which carry rainwater from the surrounding catchment, are mostly clogged, making the tanks dry for most parts of the year. Since the pond has not been repaired for several years, clean water doesn’t stay in the tank even during heavy rains. Bushes and weeds cover the abandoned pond. Moreover, stone stairs leading down the tank are cracked and lie dilapidated. It is so worse that even after the heavy rains that caused floods and loss of property in some regions of Kanyakumari, the pond couldn’t conserve water.
The float festival, in which the deity is floated in the water tank on rafts adorned with flowers and lamps, has not been appropriately carried out for many years due to the rundown shape of the pond. Nowadays, the annual float festival rituals are performed on the bund. Pained by this depravity, devotees have requested the district administration and HR & CE officials to turn their eyes towards the temple tank, at least now as Mandaikkad Amman herself revealed her displeasure about it.
Revival of the temple tank can not only reinvigorate kshetra Chaitanya but also solve the water scarcity faced by the region. Hence the HR & CE authorities as well as the local government have to prepare an action plan to rejuvenate the temple tanks by cleaning the water bodies out of garbage dumps and encroachment as well as restoration and rainwater harvesting of the temple tanks.