AP govt orders probe into alleged tantric rituals in Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada

The tantric ritual was allegedly carried out after the temple closed at 9 pm for the devotees for darshan of Goddess Kanaka Durga, and went on past midnight.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2018 13:48 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Kanka Durga temple,Vijaywada,Tantric ritual
The Kanaka Durga temple in Vijaywada is the second most popular temple in Andhra Pradesh after Tirumala.(HT PHOTO)

The Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday initiated a probe after allegations of an outsider performing Bhairavi puja, a tantric ritual, in the sanctum sanctorum of the Goddess Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada riled Hindu seers while the opposition YSR Congress accused chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu of ordering the ritual.

The government moved quickly to contain any fallout and shifted executive officer (EO) of the temple A Surya Kumari and replaced her with Ramachandra Mohan, EO of Simhachalam temple in Visakhapatnam.

Official sources said the chief minister’s office (CMO) has called for a comprehensive report from the Endowments Department authorities at the earliest over the alleged tantric ritual in the temple.

The Kanaka Durga temple atop Indrakeeladri Hill in Vijayawada, managed by Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam, is the second most popular temple in Andhra Pradesh after Tirumala and draws lakhs of devotees throughout the year.

The Vijayawada police took three priests of the Kanaka Durga temple – Pranav, Srujan and Raja -- into custody and during the interrogation, they are learnt to have confessed to have performed some “tantric puja” at the behest of main priest Badrinath Babu.

The action against the temple’s executive officer Surya Kumari came within hours of her denying allegations of the tantric ritual. She told the media on Tuesday evening that the temple priests had performed the ritual of only cleaning the sanctum sanctorum by reciting mantras, a routine procedure done once in a month.

Ahead of the government shunting her out, she transferred Badrinath Babu to one of the smaller temples managed by the Kanaka Durga temple trust on the charges of flouting rules.

The video footage obtained by the authorities of the Endowments Department and the police revealed that the three priests along with an unidentified person were performing some rituals after the temple closed for devotees on December 26.

The temple closes for the devotees for darshan of Goddess Kanaka Durga at 9 pm, but the priests continued to perform some puja in the inner temple till 12.45 am. Unconfirmed reports said the priests had decked up the presiding deity as “Goddess Kali” (an aggressive form of Durga) and performed Bhairavi puja for more than two hours. They had even prepared “kadamba prasadam” (food to be offered to the deity) in the temple kitchen.

The alleged tantric rituals in the Kanaka Durga temple evoked strong reactions from Hindu seers. Describing it as desecration of the temple, Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswati of Visakha Sarada Peetham said it was unfortunate that the Hindu temples had been misused as political rehabilitation centres. He wondered why the temple was not cleansed after the alleged ritual.

“I will write a letter to chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu to sack all those responsible for such acts. If no action was taken, we will move the court,” he said.

YSR Congress party spokesperson Ambati Rambabu alleged that the tantric rituals were performed in the Vijayawada temple only at the behest of chief minister Naidu himself, who wanted to secure ‘divine powers’ for his son and IT minister Nara Lokesh so that he could become chief minister of the state in future.

First Published: Jan 03, 2018 13:48 IST