TIRUVANNAMALAI: The drive by Tiruvannamalai town police to provide sadhus in and around the 14 kilometres along girivalam and in front of the Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar temple to both check crime and ensure hassle free darshan for devotees is a slow process with only 300 ID cards being issued till date according to SP Karthikeyan.
According to a local resident who prefers anonymity, “the girivalam path alone has around 1,500 sadhus. As the Indra lingam, Agni lingam and Esanya lingam are within the limits of the temple town there are not many sadhus here. But it is near the other lingams – from the Yama lingam to the Kubera lingam – around the girivalam path that most sadhus congregate and seek alms from devotees.
With the annual Karthigai Deepam festival to start in another month, “the town will see a crowd of nearly 30 lakh devotees from various parts of the state and country which is when fake sadhus make a killing” a source revealed.
Some years ago, police would round up sadhus and take them to a marriage hall during the auspicious girivalam procession which resulted in sadhus dodging police to ensure they were free to offer darshan to devotees.
Police officials revealed that such sadhus could include those involved in crime who come to Tiruvannamalai and sit with shaved heads to escape detection. It may be recalled that a few months ago Bengaluru police nabbed a criminal in the guise of a sadhu from a famed ashram in the town through his Aadhar card.
Hence many give various excuses not to be photographed by the police who move in a team and click their pictures on the spot and load it onto a laptop.
SP Karthikeyan said “we cover not only the girivalam path but also those sitting in front of the temple.”