Madkai temple row is beyond idol; villagers want ‘public ownership’

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 18 February 2016 14:52 IST

Are villagers of Madkai merely opposing replacement of the idol of Devi Navdurga? Or is it a stepping stone for a much wider struggle, demanding ownership of the temples?

“We will not sit quiet until the Bahujan Samaj gets equal rights on par with the Mahajan”, Shailendra Panajikar, president of Shree Devi Navdurga Pratishthan, makes it clear while talking to

His argument is simple. If services of Navdurga Devi are distributed among all the people, then why should there be discrimination in holding management rights of the temple?

A group of villagers is annoyed because the temple committee of Mahajan gave in writing to the Ponda Mamlatdar, who is also the administrator of temple management, that their temple is private and not public.

“We have told the Mamlatdar what is a legal position, as per the Mahajani Act, quoting the Compromisso (by-laws)”, says Vallabh Kamat, chairman of the Shree Navdurga Sansthan.

According to him, the private ownership of Goan temples is defined in the Portuguese Act, which is still prevalent in Goa.

“We want the act to be changed. Portuguese regime is over 55 years ago. The government should intervene now and change the act, which keeps property rights of a public temple in private hands”, states Panajikar.

The Pratishthan wants all the villagers serving the temple to be made Mahajan of the temple as well as all the rights Mahajan are enjoying, including entering the Garbhagraha or holding the Palkhi etc.

He alleges that the temple committee plays casteism while managing the temple, which, according to him, was built by the Bahujan Samaj and still worshipped by them by paying all kind of services to the deity.

Citing the Compromisso, Vallabh Kamat however shows how the by-laws have distributed all kind of services of the temple, including its management, rituals, ceremonies, festivals etc, among the whole community and just not Mahajan.

Stating that there are around 450 old temples and masjids managed under the Mahajani Act, he also states that over 375 temples among these belong to different communities of Bahujan Samaj.

“Do they want all these temples to be managed by all the people? Will these communities, who are Mahajan of their respective temples, agree to that?”, asks Kamat.

“Yes, irrespective of any caste or community, we want ownership of all the public temples to be vested in the hands of the public”, says Panajikar.

But at present, he says, they are concentrating on Devi Navdurga temple of Madkai, after which the movement would be spread throughout Goa.

“All the major movements of Goa have always begun from Madkai. Goa’s first visionary chief minister Bhausaheb Bandodkar also started his regime from Madkai”, stated Panajikar.

“We respect the law and we would continue doing it”, stated Kamat, president of the Navdurga temple committee and a retired government officer. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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