Recently, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court gave permission for Islamic Namaz on the Thiruparankundram hill. The Sri Subramanya Swamy temple is located on this hill. Islamists have made repeated attempts to name the hill after a supposed Sufi saint. They want to rename the hill as ‘Sikkandar hill’. The group had approached the bench to allow Bakri Eid namaz on the hill; they claimed that a 30-minute namaz causes no harm to anyone. The Madurai bench has refused to ban Namaz on the Dargah. Moreover, the bench asked the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) Department to submit a report on the issue. It is currently considering the permit for future Islamic activities at the Thiruparankundram Hill.
History of Thiruparankundram Hill and the Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple
Thiruparankundram Hill is 1050 feet above sea level in Tamil Nadu. The Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple is a place of worship of Lord Murugan, located at the Thiruparankundram Hill. It is among the six abodes of Lord Murugan, who is also known as Kartikeya or Subramanya. The main deity of the Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple is Lord Murugan. However, the temple also has idols of other deities like Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi, Goddess Kali, Lord Vishnu, Lord Vinayakar, Rishi Narada, Lord Brahma, Lord Indra, Surya Dev, and Chandra Dev.
The temple’s architectural grandeur and historical legacy are a matter of pride for the Tamil Nadu Hindus. A common belief is that the temple was built during the reign of the Pandyan Dynasty, in the medieval period. The temple’s intricate carvings, towering gopurams (entrance towers), and intricate sculptures showcase the rich Hindu architectural style.
The sacred texts of Tamil literature contain references to the Sri Subramanya Swamy temple. Thus, the temple can trace back its history by many centuries.
Lord Murugan is worshiped with great devotion and reverence by Hindu devotees at the Sri Subramanya Swamy temple. One of its prominent features is the rock-cut architecture, where the inner sanctum is carved inside a natural cave. The cave temple exudes a calming aura rich with spirituality. The temple gives a testament to the rich heritage and artistic prowess of ancient Tamil civilizations. The temple holds annual festivals like the Thaipusam and the Panguni Uthiram that attract a large number of devotees. These devotees heartily participate in grand processions and rituals at the temple. Thus, Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple at Thiruparankundram Hill is a witness to the rich religious, cultural, and historical heritage of Tamil Nadu’s Hindu population.
The ‘Sikkandar Hill’ Controversy and Demand for Namaz by Islamists
Muslims claim that a Sufi named ‘Sikandar Zulqarnain’ came to Madurai to preach Islam. The Quran also mentions the name of this Sufi saint. It is a common belief that he aided Muslim invaders to conquer Indian provinces. Islamists state that the Sufi built a mosque on the Thiruparankundram hill. Additionally, they claim that he died on this very hill. Thus, his dargah on the hilltop is a holy place for the Muslimcommunity. This is the main reason behind their demand to rename the hill ‘Sikkandar Hill’.
Hindus are claiming that Islamists are slowly encroaching on parts of the hill. They accuse Islamists of using celebrations and festivals as a pretext for activities similar to Land Jihad. Hindu activists oppose all Islamic activities at the hilltop. Earlier Hindus would lighet a ‘deepam’, holy lamp, on the hilltop. However, this tradition has been discontinued for a long time. Hindu organizations have repeatedly approached the Tamil Nadu government to remove the Islamic encroachments from the hill. The Subramanya Swamy temple is currently under the control of HR & CE. This government body has bowed to the minority appeasement politics and given away the rights of the temple to light the traditional lamp at the hilltop.
Points to Ponder
Islamic activists have raised the question that 30 minutes of namaz does not harm anyone. However, the namaz itself shouts the slogan of only one true God. The hill which is the home to a centuries-old temple should not have Islamic prayers that condemn its existence. The Madurai bench has asked HR & CE to submit a detailed report on why the prayers and Islamic activities would benefit the local Indian community.
Strangely, the right of Hindus to re-light a lamp on the hilltop, as a part of the temple’s tradition, was denied by the HR & CE and the local authorities. It was proclaimed as harmful to the peace of the region. Moreover, it would hurt the feelings of the Muslims in the area. However, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court bench is considering permitting idol-hating prayers on a hill dedicated to Lord Murugan. This is another example of a case where temples of India need to be freed from state control. It is the only way the judiciary and the liberals will leave sites of Hindu worship untouched. Otherwise, the rights of Hindus and their religious belief will be constantly marginalized to make way for the ‘peacefuls’ of this world.