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‘Not a picnic spot’: Madras high court on entry of non-Hindus in Palani temples

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According to the court, people cannot use the temple premises as a “picnic spot” while admiring the architectural monuments.

The Madras high court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government and the state Hindu religious and charitable endowments (HR&CE) department to not allow non-Hindus inside the Palani temple and its sub-temples in the state, saying that they are “not a picnic or tourist spot”. A bench led by Justice S Srimathy asked the state government to install boards in all Hindu temples indicating “non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple after Kodimaram” – at the entrance of the temples, near the flagpole and at prominent places in the shrine.

The court was hearing a plea from D Senthilkumar – organiser of Palani hill temple devotees organisation – who sought directions to permit only Hindus to the Arulmigu Palani Dhandayuthapani Swamy temple and sub-temples.

“The respondents are directed not to allow the non-Hindus who do not believe in Hindu religion. If any non-Hindu claims to visit a particular deity in the temple, then the respondents shall obtain an undertaking from the said non-Hindu that he has faith in the deity and he would follow the customs and practices of the Hindu religion and also abide by the temple customs and on such undertaking, the said non-Hindu may be allowed to visit the temple,” the court ruled.

However, the court noted that the order is only restricted to the Palani temples.

“…But the issue raised is a larger issue and the same ought to apply to all Hindu temples, hence the plea of the respondents is rejected. As stated supra, these restrictions would ensure communal harmony among different religions and ensure peace in the society,” the court said.

According to the court, people cannot use the temple premises as a “picnic spot” while admiring the architectural monuments.

“People belonging to other religions have the right to profess and practice their religion. But the customs and practice of their respective religion cannot be interfered with and any interference ought to be curtailed. The temple is not a picnic spot or tourist spot. Even in Arulmighu Brahadeeswarar temple, Thanjavur, the other religion people are allowed to admire and appreciate the architectural monuments of the temple, but not after Kodimaram,” it said.

What did the plea say?

Senthilkumar filed a plea in June last year seeking directions from the court for the installation of such boards and signages indicating the non-entry of non-Hindus in Palani temples. In his plea, Senthilkumar mentioned an example that a Muslim family with several women in ‘burquas’ had purchased tickets at the winch station to go to the Palani hilltop, the temple’s premises to click pictures. After the authorities tried stopping them, they argued that there was no board barring the entry of non-Hindus, he said.

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While the state government said that installing such boards would hurt the religious sentiments of visitors, the court refused to accept it.

source by: Hindustan Times news

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