At a time when the entire country is debating the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the chief priest of Chilkur Balaji temple, CS Rangarajan, has sought citizenship for the presiding deity.
“Give citizenship to the deity of the famous Chilkur temple Balaji Lord Venkateswara,” said Rangarajan.
He said every deity is considered a minor and has to be represented in court by a priest, trustee or the executive officer. “Under Section 5(4) of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act a minor can obtain citizenship rights, so deities of all the temples can be given citizenship rights under this provision. Register all Hindu deities like Venkateswara Swamy in Tirumala, Ayyappa Swamy in Sabarimala, and Padmanabhaswamy in Kerala as citizens under Section 5(4) of CAA,” Rangarajan said.
Rangarajan said that the verdict in Sabarimala temple case showed that the secular state of India is a threat to a Hindu deity’s religious freedom. “Despite the constitutional provisions and judicial decisions, Hindu temples and religious and charitable institutions are routinely taken over by the secular state on the pretext of mismanagement, whereas other religious places are exclusively managed by the respective communities even though Article 26 confers Right to Equality among all sections of citizens,” the chief priest said.
On Wednesday, a wood-carved idol of the Dalit Alwar, being carried by an archaka, was worshipped at Chilkur. Hundreds of devotees performed pradakshinas with the idol in an enactment of 2,700-year-old ritual.
The Temples Protection Movement (TPM), along with other organisations, are planning to conduct special prayers at historic Ranganadha Swamy temples located in different parts of the region, said Rangarajan.