HC stays Art of Liv­ing event at iconic TN tem­ple com­plex

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Nation - MC Ra­jan mc.ra­[email protected]

The Madras High Court on Fri­day stayed the hold­ing of a two-day event of Art of Liv­ing (AoL), hours be­fore it was sched­uled to com­mence at the iconic Bri­hadeeswarar tem­ple, a UNESCO-des­ig­nated her­itage mon­u­ment in Than­javur.

A divi­sion bench of jus­tices KK Sasid­ha­ran and PD Audike­savulu granted the stay af­ter a pe­ti­tion filed ear­lier in the morn­ing, by one N Venkat of Kumbakonam, a char­tered ac­coun­tant in­ter­ested in pro­tect­ing sanc­tity of tem­ples. The court also or­dered im­me­di­ate re­moval of the struc­tures put up at the tem­ple com­plex by AoL. It di­rected the Than­javur dis­trict col­lec­tor and su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice, to over­see the or­der is im­ple­mented and file a re­port on Mon­day.

The two-day med­i­ta­tion pro­gramme ti­tled “Un­veil­ing In­fin­ity” was sched­uled to be­gin around 2 pm on De­cem­ber 7. Large and spa­cious tents with all para­pher­na­lia were put up along the main tem­ple wall where AOL founder Sri Sri Rav­is­hankar was slated to ad­dress par­tic­i­pants. Hold­ing the event within the premises the tem­ple trig­gered a con­tro­versy with her­itage en­thu­si­asts and po­lit­i­cal par­ties de­mand­ing its ban.

Join­ing the cho­rus, Dalit leader and Vidutha­lai Chirutha­lai­gal Katchi pres­i­dent Thol Thiru­mavala­van said, “Her­itage and an­tiq­uity of the tem­ple should be pro­tected. The state gov­ern­ment should in­ter­vene and stop the event at the tem­ple com­plex. It is a com­mer­cial event and it is learnt that each par­tic­i­pant has to pay ~3,000. Fur­ther, al­low­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion iden­ti­fy­ing it­self with a par­tic­u­lar faith would cre­ate trou­ble,” he said Thurs­day.

Mean­while, the protest demon­stra­tion near the tem­ple com­plex an­nounced by var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­clud­ing the Left par­ties and the ra­tio­nal­ist Dravi­dar Kazhagam and pro-Tamil groups in­clud­ing Tamil De­siya Periyakkam, has been called off in the wake of the HC is­su­ing a stay.

The is­sue came to light when a Madu­rai-based in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist, AR Meyyam­mai, dur­ing a visit to the tem­ple, wit­nessed hec­tic prepa­ra­tions of the event and posted the pic­tures of the same on so­cial me­dia.

Of­fi­cials in the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia (ASI), which man­ages the tem­ple, said per­mis­sion was granted for the event with strict con­di­tions, at the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Hindu Re­li­gious and Char­i­ta­ble En­dow­ments depart­ment of the state gov­ern­ment.

Fol­low­ing the court or­der, the or­gan­is­ers have shifted the venue to a pri­vate place. “We have ob­tained per­mis­sion for the pro­gramme to sing bha­jans. I won­der why those op­pos­ing it had moved the high court at the eleventh hour. How­ever, this will not de­ter us from hold­ing the event. Now, we have shifted the venue to a pri­vate place,” Pradeep Ku­mar, a co­or­di­na­tor of the pro­gramme told the me­dia in Than­javur.

Ear­lier, when the mat­ter was men­tioned the bench agreed to hear it as an ur­gent mat­ter and di­rected the pe­ti­tioner to file a proper pe­ti­tion. Dur­ing the hear­ing, the judges asked why Art of Liv­ing could not con­duct the pro­gramme in a place other than a tem­ple with huge his­tor­i­cal and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. The judges also won­dered how per­mis­sion for the event could have been granted in the first place.


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