In a major controversy at the Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada, an official was suspended after allegations of unauthorised rituals held by tantriks on the night of December 26. The Kanaka Durga temple is the second most popular and one of the most crowded temples after the Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala.
According to reports allegations have been filed that a puja took place after the temple was closed with the knowledge of chief priest Badrinath Babu.
A temple official claims that the priests had only performed a ritual to ‘clean’ the sanctum sanctorum by reciting mantras. She also said that it was a monthly procedure and denied allegations of a tantric ritual being performed.
However, the police obtained video footage of the incident, which showed three priests and one unidentified man performing rituals on December 26 after the temple closed for devotees.
Police officers from the precinct police station in Vijayawada arrested three priests, Pranav, Srujan and Raja, who reportedly confessed to having performed “tantric pujas” at the behest of the chief priest.
Unconfirmed reports said the priests had decked up the presiding deity as “Goddess Kali” (an aggressive form of Durga) and performed Bhairavi puja for more than two hours
Local media reports alleged that the priests had decked up the presiding deity as Goddess Kali and performed ‘Bhairavi puja’ for more than two hours, even preparing ‘kadamba prasadam’ in the temple kitchen to offer to the goddess.
While the temple closes for devotees at 9 pm, the police said that the alleged ritual continued till 12.45 am.
However, speaking to a local media outlet, the chief priest denied all allegations and asked people not to believe such ‘wild’ accusations. He said that the CCTV footage was available for people to watch, to show that they were only performing a cleaning ritual.
The issue has irked other Hindu seers as well, with Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswati of Visakha Sarada Peetham dubbing the incident ‘unfortunate’.
Stating that temples should not be used for political purposes, he demanded strict action against those guilty of performing the alleged ritual and said that he would even move court if necessary.
Kanaka Durga Temple is synonymous with Vijayawada. It is mentioned in the sacred texts. This is the place where Arjuna obtained the Pasupatha astra after his great penance for Lord Shiva. The temple was constructed for Goddess Durga by Arjuna. It is connected by steps and a ghats road.
The temple occupies an important place in the scriptures as several of the Siva-leelas and Shakti-mahimas were enacted on or around it, making the region a place of unequaled spiritual significance and attracting pilgrims since times immemorial.
It is mentioned in the Vedas that the deity in the Kanakadurga temple is regarded as ‘Swayambhu‘ or self-manifested, hence considered very powerful. Inscriptions of different dynasties are found in the temple