Peace and harmony at last

2013-07-05 00:00

HARMONY prevails once more at the historic Siva Soobramoniar and Marriamen Temples in Langalibalele Street after years of strife over the leadership of the temple.

In what can be dubbed a “temple Codesa”, an interim committee worked for months to craft a deal that would make all parties happy and accommodate the warring factions. Those involved say it is the dawn of a new era for the temple, which is one of Pietermaritzburg’s landmark religious centres.

Primi Chetty, who was the interim committee chairperson, said that a new 25-member council was chosen on Sunday, made up of representatives of the different groupings within the temple. Chetty thanked those present for allowing the meeting to proceed with decorum and in a dignified manner.

This was a far cry from the annual general meeting (AGM) that took place more than six years ago, when chairs were sent flying. At that time concerned devotees of the temple challenged the leadership, who they felt had become too entrenched. After that fracas no AGMs were held for years. An air of unease hung over the temple as relationships remained strained.

There was also the matter of public accounts; without AGMs being held, annual financial statements were not available for scrutiny by members, some of whom then became suspicious about how financial contributions were being managed.

Chetty said that in October last year the temple membership appointed lawyers Kooben Chetty, Anand Pillay and advocate Yoga Moodley to sort out matters. The legal team recommended that a steering committee be appointed to manage the transition. Fifteen people were chosen — five from the old temple committee, five from the concerned devotees and five from the floor.

Chetty said it took eight months to reach a point where they felt able to go ahead with an AGM.

Before this they had to sort out the temple’s financial statements since 2008. She added that the financial statements had now all been approved.

At Sunday’s meeting, the steering committee had proposed that the full council be chosen to ensure that there was a mix of the different groupings. There was a counter-proposal with a seconder who wanted council members to be voted from the floor. There was a vote on both proposals, and the one from the steering committee that the new council be made up equally of the different factions won the day. The council chosen on Sunday is made up of the old guard and the concerned devotees who challenged their leadership. Members of the interim committee were also elected onto the council to ensure continuity.

Sunny Naidoo was unanimously elected from the floor as the new president of the council. The membership agreed that the office bearers, including the four vice-presidents, be elected at the first council meeting, held last night.

Chetty said temple devotees can look forward to a time of peace and calm where new ideas and a vision for the temple can be developed.

“We want to have an outreach programme and to be more transparent. Members can look forward to a quality newsletter and an upgrading of facilities. Nothing much happened in the past years but I am finally confident that we are moving on to the next level,” she said.

A long-time devotee of the temple, Shan Pillay, was excited by the new council. He said there were people from all walks of life, but even more exciting was the generational mix on the council. “It is wonderful to see younger people get involved in the temple affairs,” said Pillay.

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