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`Kodimaram' offerings belong to dargah: HC

By A. Subramani

CHENNAI AUG. 5. The unique `Kodimaram' contributions at the Nagore Dargah, where devotees tie their offerings on flagropes specially erected during the 14-day Kanthuri festival, belong to the mosque and not to the individual hereditary trustee (Sirang), the Madras High Court has ruled.

(The festival got underway on August 5 with the hoisting of flags at the dargah.)

Justice P.D. Dinakaran, passing interim orders on a petition filed by S. Saha Syed Sahib, said: ``The Sirang's right to collect any contribution from pilgrims for hoisting the dargah flag during the Kanthuri festival would in no manner prejudice the right of the managing trustee to save the interest of the dargah and its property, including the offerings tied by the pilgrims on `Kodimaram'.

``Hence, no one, much less the Sirang, can possibly claim a right to solicit or receive such offerings intended for the dargah,'' Mr. Justice Dinakaran said, reversing the over 400-year-old tradition wherein the Sirang had the absolute right to collect the entire offerings. Devotees make their offerings at the dargah in various forms, mostly by tying them on the flagropes of Sahib Manora at the mosque.

Sirang is the person who raises the flag. At the end of Kanthuri festival, he takes away the flag collection and pays his 20 assistants out of it.

The petitioner questioned the right, and pointed out that despite the absence of any specific rule, the Sirang claimed the flag collections and also collected an entry fee from those who wanted to climb up the mosque tower. He also gets a monthly salary besides a special Kanthuri festival benefit.

Mr. Syed Sahib's earlier petition against the practice was, however, dismissed by the Nagapattinam sessions court on September 26, 2001. The present one is a revision petition.

In his order, Mr. Justice Dinakaran also said the dargah administration should collect offerings from devotees separately for the services of the Sirang. The eight-member Board of Trustees of the mosque shall pay the Sirang and his team of assistants at the end of the Kanthuri festival.

Also, the Kodimaram collections shall be separately collected, accounted and deposited in a nationalised bank by the Board.

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