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Pics Show ‘Marriages’ of Minor Daughters of Tamil Nadu Temple Priests

Sruti MD |
One of the photos shows the alleged marriage of the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple secretary’s daughter to a priest’s son.
Pics Show ‘Marriages’ of Minor Daughters of Tamil Nadu Temple Priests

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Photos of alleged marriages of minor daughters of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple priests (Dhikshitars) in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district have surfaced online.  

One of the photos shows the alleged marriage of temple secretary Hemasabesa’s daughter to priest Venkatesa’s son on January 25, 2021.

The police have registered four cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of, 2006, against the priests’ families since the COVID-19 lockdown. 

In January 2021, a priest’s 13-year-old daughter in class VII was married to a 19-year-old N Badrisan.

On June 3, 2022, priest Sivaraman’s son Kabilan was married to a 17-year-old daughter of a fellow priest.

On September 21, 2022, 24-year-old Pasupathi was married to priest Somasekhara’s 14-year-old daughter in class IX.

Reportedly, 22 cases have been filed under Act against Chidambaram priests this year.


The All-Women’s Police Station in Chidambaram arrested some members of the priests’ families on Sunday after the social welfare department complained. Angry priests protested outside the temple until midnight and stopped officials from investigating the matter.

BBC Tamil reported that inspector Aarogyaraj visited the wedding venue and checked the records to confirm that the marriages were held on the said date.

The priests’ lawyer urged the Madras High Court on Saturday to take suo motu action and order an inquiry into the photographs. 


Earlier this month, governor RN Ravi alleged that social welfare department officials made girls undergo the banned two-finger test and the complaint was an act of “revenge”. 

The police said on May 5 that such tests were not done.

Subsequently, the National Commissioner for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asked the chief secretary to submit a report on Ravi’s allegation. An NCPCR probe on May 25 revealed that the two-finger test was not done, but the girls were examined by touching their private parts.


Several controversies surround the Chidambaram priests and their control over the 10th-century temple and its resources. During an inspection last year, they refused to cooperate with the state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department. A committee created by the department received 14,098 petitions mentioning irregularities in the temple’s management.

Some priests were booked for caste discrimination against a woman devotee last year. The priests have banned the singing of Tamil hymns Thevaram and Thiruvasagam inside the temple claiming it insults traditional pooja. 

In 2008, the Tamil Nadu government assumed the temple’s administrative powers. The priests filed a case against it in the Supreme Court, which decided in their favour.

The priests are supposed to conduct temple rituals and organise festivals. The priests belong to the Srivatsa, Vishwamitra, Kaudinya and Rishignyana gotras. There are around 300 families who marry among themselves. A family’s male heir becomes the next generation priest. Every married priest becomes a trustee and Archaka of the Nataraja temple. 

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