A Traffic policeman was seen stomping on the camphor lighted by devotees to extinguish it in Tamil Nadu. Lighting camphor and breaking coconut during the annual Chithirai chariot festival in Srirangam was banned this year. Police claimed that it would cause accidents. But devotees did it, as usual, not caring about the ban. A traffic inspector snuffed out the camphor lit by devotees by stomping on it with shoes.
The temple city of Srirangam was abuzz with activity on April 19 on the occasion of the yearly Chithirai Ther(chariot) festival. Otherwise known as Viruppan Thirunaal, the festival holds historical importance as well. It was started by Virupanna Udayar, the Vijayanagara king who donated and took efforts to renovate the Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple which was ransacked during Islamic invasions. The temple was bereft of worship till the Vijayanagara Empire reclaimed the city.
Not only the king, who donated 17,000 gold coins and 52 villages for the upkeep of the temple, but the public from the neighboring villages also donated whatever they could to restore the temple to its past glory and resume worship. The chariot festival was restarted by Virupanna Udayar in 1383 and devotees bestowed him with the honor of naming the festival after him.
With such religious and historical importance, the festival attracts lakhs of devotees every year. Devotees light incense, camphor and break coconuts on the path of the chariot once it passes through. It is a fairly frequent practice in the procession of Hindu deities. This year police banned it citing that broken coconut shells might hurt the public. But many didn’t follow the diktat and lit camphor.
A video has gone viral on social media in which a traffic policeman can be seen stomping out the burning camphor. He extinguished the camphor even though devotees in the vicinity could be seen walking away and dispersing. Even though the media reported the incident many tried to justify the policeman’s action saying the fire could have caused an accident if not extinguished. Unfortunately, many Hindus felt his action was right and abused the devotees who lit camphor in social media.
Lighting camphor during an utsavam is a practice followed since time immemorial. It was followed all these years and didn’t cause any accidents, especially in the SriRangam chariot festival. While the concern for safety cannot be neglected as there have been many recent incidents of unfortunate accidents during temple festivals, police could have cleared and allotted a certain place for devotees to follow the practice instead of banning it altogether. But then it is not surprising considering it is an anti-Hindu DMK government in power.
The sad reality is that instead of questioning why no alternative was provided or how it could cause accidents when it didn’t all these years, educated Hindus blindly believed whatever the media reported and accepted the cop’s action meekly. In fact, some even lauded him for acting in time and averting accidents. The mind-boggling level of colonisation the Brits achieved with the help of atrocity literature created by missionaries has resulted in this mindless self-flagellation.