Chennai

‘Don’t allow midnight darshan at temples during New Year’

A writ petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department to ensure that none of the temples under its control is kept open for darshan during the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 for welcoming in the New Year as per the Gregorian calendar.

Advocate A. Ashvathaman of Mylapore has filed the case, expected to be listed for hearing before the Christmas vacation court sitting on Thursday. He claimed that Hindus celebrate only Tamil New Year on the first day of Tamil month Chithirai and the western New Year celebrations were not part of “Hindu Tamil culture and ethos.”

Making it clear that he was not against people visiting temples during day time on January 1, the petitioner said he was only opposing darshan organised at midnight in blatant violation of Agama Sastras (religious prescriptions). The Saivite temples and Vaishnavite temples could be opened during midnight only on Maha Shivaratri and Vaikunda Ekadasi, he claimed. In his affidavit, Mr. Ashvathaman stated that there were scientific reasons behind the Agama Sastras insisting on closing the temples after the Arthajama Puja around 9 p.m. and opening them during the Brahma Muhurtham between 4.30 a.m. and 6 a.m. every day. The only exception provided was for Maha Shivaratri and Vaikunda Ekadasi, he added.

The petitioner also claimed that the government of Andhra Pradesh had issued a notification against keeping temples opened for western New Year celebrations. The notification had made it clear that the Telugu New Year Ugadi was the actual new year as per the Hindu tradition and that spreading the English culture to Hindu temples was not appropriate. The neighbouring State had also deprecated the practice of temples spending lot of money for floral decorations during the western New Year, the petitioner said and sought a similar direction to be issued to all temples under the control of the HR and CE department in Tamil Nadu.

It was further contended that keeping the temples open during midnight to welcome the western New Year violated Articles 25 (freedom to practice and propagate any religion) and 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the Constitution.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 4:28:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/dont-allow-midnight-darshan-at-temples-during-new-year/article22282917.ece

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