There is a long legal battle between the dikshitars and the Government of Tamil Nadu over administration of the temple. It began with the Government permitting non-Dikshitars to sing Tevaram hymns in the sanctom sanctorum (vimanam) of the Lord, to which the dikshitars objected, claiming exclusive right to worship in the sanctum of Lord Nataraja. The temple is now taken over by Government of Tamil Nadu under Sec 45 of the T.N. HR & CE Act. This has however been challenged by the Podu Dikshitars. The Podhu Dikshitars are a religious denomination as observed by the Madras High Court in 1951. They are entitled to carry on the administration since Article 26 of the Indian Constitution and Section 107 of the T.N.HR & CE Act prohibit government intervention in the administration of Denominations. The case is now currently (April 2010) pending before the Supreme Court of India. Podhu Dikshitars have refused to hand over any charge to the Executive Officer appointed by the HR & CE Commissioner. The Executive Officer has installed hundials (donation boxes) in this ancient temple, against the temple traditions. He also installed modern high mast lamps in this heritage site. He proposes to introduce Archana tickets and Darshan tickets. All these actions have been opposed by the Podhu Dikshitars and the devotees. However, the procedure for rituals are still managed by Dikshitars – From Wikipedia
Basically, it is the same old story of the anti-Hindu “deracinated Indian establishment, seizing Hindu temples, milking them dry and transferring wealth to themselves and their votebanks. The worst part of the picture is that the temples sanctity and millennial old traditions are destroyed.
In the case of the Chidambaram temple, it has been run by the same families of priests for over two thousand years as per temple records – the Dikshitars. You can google to learn more about them but I have had the honor of meeting them and they are authentic, humble reservoirs of our traditions. They pretty much live in poverty and have no ambition but to serve the temple deity. Compare to the avaricious government officials or the “disconnected” government appointed priests in the government seized temples. These Dikshitars are under siege and by extension one of the the last of the great Hindu traditions is under siege. The situation is dire.
I would suggest that the reader make it a point to visit the temple and also compare the vibe and maintenance to the government seized temples in South India. The difference is massive. The government Hundis represent grand theft larceny with little going to the temples or the priests, the latter forced to commercialize the rituals due to the abject poverty they have been subjected to.
While the Dikshitars are fighting a court battle with the help of Dr. Swamy – kudos to him, it is not just the job of the Dikshitars and Dr. Swamy to fight this battle. We the people have to get on the streets, campaign and do whatever it takes to protect our heritage. We have to raise public awareness first as this issue is no less important that any other Indian temple issue but getting on the streets is important too.
Fact of the matter is that North India has no great Hindu temples of yore (some have been rebuilt but the essence is reduced). You can find the remains of them in the constructions by the invaders. Our temples are in the South and they are being rapidly destroyed by the Indian establishment. We have to protect our own.