There has been some outrage in Cuddalore after a priest of the much-revered Chidambaram Temple hit a woman devotee while giving prasadam to the gathering. Sources said that the priest, who was booked by the Chidambaram Town police, is still absconding.

Sources said that Latha (51), nurse at a government primary health centre at Kattumannarkoil and a resident of Cuddalore, came to the Thillai Natarajar temple on Friday evening as it was her son's birthday. She took some articles of pooja to the Mukkuruni Vinayagar shrine inside the temple and sought a special pooja for her son. The priest, identified as Dharshan, took the pooja articles from her and went inside the sanctum. The lady realised the priest had not asked for her son's name and birth star, without which the incantation cannot be performed. She assumed he would come back for her son's name, however, Dharshan returned with her pooja articles and told her the pooja was over.

The lady asked him how he could have performed a pooja when he did not even ask for the beneficiary's name or birth star. An argument broke out between the two and the 29-year-old priest allegedly slapped the woman on her right cheek, in full view of the other devotees. The woman registered a complaint with the Chidambaram Town police, who booked the priest under IPC section 294B (penalty for obscene words or actions) 323 (Penalty for voluntarily causing hurt) and section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998.

A video of the incident has since surfaced online. The priest, who is seated in front of the Mukkuruni Vinayagar shrine, could be heard justifying his aggression. He claimed that the lady tried to snatch his chain, following which her 'protected himself' by slapping her. The other devotees could be heard, decrying the priest, even as he accuses the lady.