Raghunath Temple Takeover Divides Kullu Valley

Kullu: The Himachal Pradesh governments unilateral decision to take over the privately managed Raghunath Temple that houses the presiding deity of Kullu has raised tempers in the valley.

Karan Singh, a cabinet minister and a scion of the Kullu royal house that acts as a guardian of the deity, refuted all apprehensions about the government takeover restricting any of the customs or traditions associated with the temple.

The Dev Samaj (deity union) headed by Karan Singh’s elder brother Maheshwar Singh has termed the notification for takeover the temple management by the government as a uncalled for intervention into the religious affairs of the people of Kullu valley. Maheshwar Singh has claimed the the temple was a private property and threatened to legally challenge the government notification in court.

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The Kullu Dusherra is presided over by the Raghunath Temple Deity

“I have not played any role in the government’s decision to take over the management of Raghunath Temple,” Karan Singh told a packed house of reporters here at Bacchat Bhawan, Dhalpur earlier today. The government took a decision after getting many resolutions from district. Being part of cabinet I support support the government decision and no century old tradition or rituals associated with the temple ,which include popular festival of Dussehra, Basant Panchami, Jal Bihar and Annkut, would be affected. Everything will the same, except the management of temple funds and security, which would not be handled privately anymore but by a trust of 8 members has been constituted to manage it.”

Minister Karan Singh, in red top, answering media questions
Minister Karan Singh, in red top, answering media questions

Bringing out the poor security at the temple premises that had led to the theft of the revered temple idols and other artefacts on the night of 8-9 December, 2014, the minister said that a plan to install a good security system at the temple complex had already been drawn up.

Unhappy with the government’s decision, Daut Ram Thakur, an executive member of Kullu Dev Samaj argued, “handing over the temple management to a trust is no guarantee that thefts would not occur.”

Expressing his opposition to the government move Thakur confided with Hill Post, “interference in centuries old deity culture or our valley would not be tolerated on the pretext of a theft case. If a theft occurs at the other famous temple of Shri Bijali Mahadev, would government takeover that temple too or does the government take over all the temples where theft is reported,”

He disclosed that a general house of the Kullu Dev Samaj union would soon been convened to express solidarity against the government move to take over Raghunath Temple management.

No one from the Dev Samaj union has sent a resolution for takeover of the temple management, said Thakur said. Our deity system has already suffered a lot due because of the 1952 Land Revenue Act and the 1972 Tenancy and Land Reform Act, we are in no mood to bear more loss or interfering with our culture and traditions.”

The cabinet, which was attended by Karan Singh on 25th July, 2016, decided to take over the temple management and put Maheshwar Singh, the current management caretaker, on notice about it.

Taken by surprise and expressing resentment over the government’s move the shops and commercial establishments in Kullu on Wednesday remained shut. Santa Dharamshabha, a religious body, even submitted a protest memo before the district magistrate for the governor.

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