Madurai: Tension prevailed at Madurai Adheenam (Mutt) here, one of the oldest Saivite mutts in the country, as Hindu outfits staged a protest against the appointment of self-styled godman Nithananda as its 293rd pontiff.
Hindu Makkal Katchi said police allowed only six persons in to see the mutt heads.Though they wanted to meet the senior pontiff alone, they were denied permission and told to talk to them in the presence of 200 disciples, HMK state president Arjun Sampath said.
Sampath said the mutt had set a wrong precedent by suddenly announcing the new head without consulting disciples and heads of other mutts. Nityananda should have been appointed after being cleared of the charges against him, he said, adding the new pontiff had taken over without following certain rituals.
Hindu Munnani also opposed nomination of Nityananda as pontiff and pointed out the present pointiff was appointed after being trained in religious rituals for four years.
VHP leader P Somasundaram said it was for the senior pontiff to establish if he had taken the correct decision, while BJP leader Pon. Ramakrishnan said they could not interfere in Mutt affairs.
Nityananda, who formally took over today, later told reporters he was honoured of a 2500-year-old mutt.
He alleged that those using `defamatory terms` against him were out to destroy him. "Trying to destroy a person is different from defaming him," he said.
On the agitations by Hindu outfits against his appointment, he said they had not understood him properly.
The senior pontiff defended his decision, saying it was his prerogative to choose his successor and none could interfere in that and is the most eligible person to head it.
Earlier both pontiffs offered worship at the famous Meenakshi temple. Nityanandha is the first person outside Saiva Velalar community to be appointed Mutt chief.
Nityananda had landed in controversy after a video footage showing him in a compromising position with an actress was telecast by local TV channels in March 2010.
He was arrested on Apr 21, 2010 from Solan in Himachal Pradesh. He was granted bail on June 11, 2010 by the Karnataka High Court.