Social Services funded by the Devasthanam
Temples in Tamil Nadu have from time immemorial been the centres round which social and cultural life was organised. Temples have been in the distant past the centres for education and learning. The Palani Devasthânam, through its enlightened management, continues this great tradition and stands out as the foremost example of such social work in our generation. The Devasthânam's areas of social work include:
The Devasthânam maintains an orphanage for orphaned boys and deaf and dumb boys. They are given free education, books, food, accommodation and medical aid. The Devasthânam also maintains an asylum of old persons.
The Devasthânam maintains in a building near the Pattathu Vinayagar Temple in the heart of the town, a Children's Creche for pre-school children (age group 2 + to 5). They are given milk, lunch, biscuits and medical aid, free of charge. Pre-school education and facilities for play are provided. This institution is a boon to working poor parents who cannot afford to keep servants at home to look after their children during office/factory hours and has helped to raise the living standards of the families and the pre-school cultural standards and environment of the babies.
Veda Siva Agama School
Since 1959, the Devasthânam runs this institution to give five years of intensive training in temple pooja service, performance of Tamil Archana, conduct of Kumbhâbhishekams and other festivals etc. The young men who join this course are given training, food, dress, accommodation and medical aid, free of charge.
The Devasthânam is maintaining since 1972 botanical gardens around the hill. Eucalyptus, neem, sandalwood, pungem, coconut and mango trees, as also such medicinal herbs as are suggested by the Devasthânam's Siddha Medical Officer, are planted. In Dandapani Nilayam, ornamental plants are grown. The Nandavanams yield some of the flowers required for temple services. An experienced horticulturist is in charge of all these gardens.
Marriages at Temple Expense
Adi Dravidas (Harijans) and the poor belonging to Backward Classes are being helped to have their marriages solemnized in the temple premises.
Archanas in Tamil
Lord Muruga is considered as the creator of the Tamil Language along with Agastya and He does not mind being abused in harsh words if such abuse is in the sweet Tamil diction. The priests have been supplied with necessary books and the co-operation of the priests has been cent per cent. There is a growing demand for Tamil archanas at Palani. If a devotee desires to have archana in Sanskrit, his desire is fulfilled.
Assistance to Other Temples
Ever since Independence (1947), a part of the surplus funds of this Devasthânam, after meeting the requirements of the sub-temples, has been generously given for the renovation of old temples celebrated in song and legend. The sum-total of these donations exceeds Rupees four crores. In the last three years, major contributions have been made to the Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram (Rs. 2.65 lakhs in the first instance), the Adi Sankara Shrine at Prayag, Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and to the Tiruketeesvaram Siva Temple in Sri Lanka . No worthy cause ever goes un-noticed by the Trustees. The Devasthânam has taken up the responsibility of renovating one of the Gopurams of the Chidambaram Temple. The Devasthânam has agreed to give rupees one lakh to the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for a prayer hall to be built in Kodaikanal. Rupees three lakhs has been paid to the Parasakti College for Women in Courtallam for the construction of Palani Andavar Library buildings.
Mid-Day Meals for School Children
Since the 1960's, the scheme of giving free lunch has been in force in the Periya Nayagi Amman Temple and 700 school children continue to receive the benefit of this scheme.
The Devasthânam maintains a library and reading room in Dandapani Nilaiyam for the pilgrims and the general public. It is open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and 4 pm. to 8 p.m. On Government holidays, the library functions only in the morning. Holiday: Saturday. The library has a fairly large collection of books on religion and other subjects in several languages.
The Devasthânam has realised the need to inculcate religious and moral attitudes in the new generation, even in the formative years of the children. Therefore, they have published in a series of small books, written in suitable style, the stories of saints and seers. Select hymns on Lord Muruga and other Hindu deities, that were so far available only in manuscripts, have been printed.
Arulmigu Palani Andavar English Medium School For Children
The Devasthânam founded this school in 1972 to impart primary education of a high standard to the children of Palani and thus met the demand for a English Medium School offering L. K. G., U.K.G. & Standards Ito VIII. The school has an adequate library, a choice collection of play materials, the most sophisticated teaching aids and a team of highly qualified teachers and dedicated 'Ayahs. The school is presently housed in 'Muruganagam' in Kutchery New Street, but is likely to be shifted to a six-acre campus, where spacious buildings are planned. The school is being developed as a matriculation school.