The police used mild force to disperse two groups who indulged in a wordy quarrel with each other in connection with the smooth conduct of ‘arattu’ in Sanakaranarayanar Temple at Nattalam near Karungal on Wednesday night.

According to police, this was one of the Siva temples from where devotees from the southern districts and neighbouring Kerala used to take out a marathon known as Sivalaya Ottam. The 10-day annual festival of the temple came to an end with the conduct of ‘arattu’ (the idols of presiding deities were subjected to a customary dip in temple tank). A group of persons objected to this ritual, citing the court order which directed the representatives of the village to abide by the orders of the district administration.

Revenue Divisional Officer (Padmanabhapuram) Mohana Chandran had directed Joint-Commissioner of Kanyakumari Temples R. Gnanasekaran to conduct ‘arattu’ at Kamukannur in the Tamiraparani river.

However, 100 Bharatiya Janata party cadre, led by the senior leader of the district, M.R.Gandhi, district secretary of Hindu Munnani Viswanathan and others thronged in front of the temple and urged the authorities to implement the direction of RDO while carrying out the ‘arattu.’

But it was objected to by another group of the same village who insisted that the ‘arattu’ should be conducted in the temple tank. As a tense situation prevailed in Nattalam, Vilavancode Tahsildar Ayyappan and police personnel rushed to the spot. But an angered group damaged the vehicle of the tahsildar which led to the arrest of seven persons, including Hindu Munnani activist Misa Soman.

Finally the ‘arattu’ was conducted in the temple tank amid tight security.

Armed police personnel had been posted in Nattalam.