At the government primary school in Sivanthangal, Kundrathur, religious chants and prayers resonate in the air everyday, successfully drowning out teachers’ lectures, thanks to a temple built in its premises. In fact, even the residents claim that the temple caretakers have been conducting festivities every month, affecting studies.
“Earlier, a small idol along with a trisulam was kept in the middle of the school. In August, 2019, however, a group constructed a shelter for the idol, but now it occupies a significant portion of the small school building. Added to this, the public hold Pooja every day and conduct monthly festivals,” said Pughazhvendan V, a Kundrathur resident. He added that the temple’s caretakers are oblivious about the students then and even the school management has turned a blind eye. “Parents are worried that the school is slowly transforming into a place of worship,” Pughazvendan added.
However, a section of locals, maintain the shrine claim the temple existed even before the school was built. “The temple has a history. When children played here, they tripped on a stone and found a lingam and started offering prayers. We built a small shelter for the idol and do pooja every day,” said Shankar N, a temple patron. He added that the primary school was located at quite a distance from Sivanthangal and since the children found it difficult to travel, the panchayat allocated land for the school in the temple premises. “We did not get permission from the panchayat,” Shankar added. Meanwhile, students’ parents claim that they had requested the village heads to move the shrine elsewhere. “We also complained to the principal about moving the shrine but no steps were taken,” said Indhumathi K, a parent.
When contacted, a senior Sikkarayapuram panchayat official said, “We did not allow anyone to construct a temple inside the school campus. The public should get permission before building a temple in the locality. We will inspect the school and remove the idol from school.”