History-sheeter C Palani was hacked to death in a gang war in Vysarpadi, Chennai on 29 October, 2016. The 29-year-old was suspected to have enmity with another gang. He was an accused in the murder of one Muthu Batcha of BV Colony in 2013 and also was involved in the murder of Saravanan of Puzhal in 2014. Police suspect it was these reasons that led to his killing.
However, it is for this slain gang lord from BV Colony that friends performed a milk abhishekham. On the first anniversary of his death on Sunday, October 29 his followers decided to ‘honour’ him. So far, so good. However, the issue is that Palani’s gang of followers resorted to violent means to fulfil the abhishekam.
A police officer speaking to Times of India, revealed that around 4.30am on Sunday, over 10 men on motorcycles went on a looting spree. They emptied trays full of milk packets, over 200 packs of 500ml each, meant for delivery to shops in the locality and used knives to threaten vendors who dared to object.
Milk abhishekam is a sign of devotion reserved for Hindu idols. However, over time people in Tamil Nadu have used the practice to adore and venerate their screen gods like Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan, Vijay and more such superstars. It is a sign of prestige and super stardom now to have your fans bathe your billboards, cut-outs and statues in milk or honey.
While that is true of cinema stars, the ritual which bears a religious connotation was misused, to say the least. The whole purpose of the ritual defeated since Palani’s followers forced innocents on knifepoint to part with the milk and also it was done to ‘venerate’ a man who has been associated with crime and murder.
Not to mention the sheer wastage of milk. It brings to mind an incident in 2014 when the Madras High Court taking cognisance of the wastage said that those performing milk abhishekam should spare a moment for the plight of millions of people and children who go without food, milk or shelter. It is reported that when a new Rajinikanth film releases milk packets are stolen from markets resulting in shortage for those that actually need them. Instead, gallons of milk just wasted on paper and the ground.
One cannot but look with disappointment at the turn of events, since the public is bound to emulate what they see being done in front of them. Politicians, the billionaire businessmen, what else do they do?
Name any famous temple, any famous pilgrimage place and one can see politicos, rich businessmen, celebrities flocking to offer gold, diamonds, silver ornaments, articles and crores in the form of money or related items. Where do you think the money comes from? Hard-earned money? Doesn’t seem like it. None is questioned and even if they are, their power, position and influence always helps them hush the matter as that of faith. Only a handful cases can be considered genuine devotion.
Demonetisation exposed man’s cunning nature because most of the black money, illegal currency found itself in temple hundis for fear that they caught in the taxman’s net. Temples like Tirupati and Guruvayoor receive anonymous donations in precious metals, in money all in a bid to dispose illegal currency.
Rules say that temples, charities and trust must pay tax on anonymous donations they receive. But no temple can keep a track on the donors. In such cases, the unaccounted cash will turn into white money, if people manage to produce all valid documents. The places of worship have been an unacknowledged but very present channel for money laundering since a long time. It is only now that temple’s wealth and other properties have come under the scanner but previously it was free reign for all.