CHENNAI: The Madras High court on Tuesday ordered the Archeological department of Tamil Nadu to take over a Hindu temple in Salem after its statue turned out to be that of Lord Buddha.
A single judge bench of Justice Anand Venkatesh directed the authorities that no pooja should be held at the temple now as the statue is not of a Hindu God.
Mistaken identity, he said, cannot be allowed to continue even after the archeology department had submitted a report that sculpture inside the temple was that of Buddha. The department had taken up an investigation after the court ordered it to conduct an investigation following a petition by a Buddhist trust that the sculpture worshipped in the temple worshipped as 'Thalaivetti Muniyappan' was in fact that of Lord Buddha.
After cleaning the statue, the Tamil Nadu Archeological department found that the head showed traits of Buddha-like curly hair, ushnisha (crown of hair), and elongated earlobe.
The archeological department in the report said: "After inspecting the sculpture and carefully examining the available archeological and historical evidence at our disposal, they collectively expressed their opinion that sculptures depict several mahalakshans or great traits of Buddha".
On closely examining the report, the court stated that the argument that the site was a Hindu temple does not hold validity and that the control should go into the hands of another authority.
Even as the HR&CE department which is in charge of the Hindu temples argued that people have been worshipping the deity 'Thalaivetti Muniyappan' for the past many years, the court directed that treating this as a temple would go against the basic tenets of Buddhism.
It directed the Tamil Nadu archeological department to take charge of the premises and maintain the sculpture and directed to put a board inside the property clarifying that it was a statute of Buddha.
In its judgment, the court also said that common people would be allowed entry to the place but no Hindu pooja or other ceremonies would be performed at the sculpture of Buddha.