MADURAI/KARUR:Terming as “inhuman” and “anti-constitutional” a century-old ritual of non-Brahmins eating food leftover by Brahmins and rolling over the dumped plantain leaves at the Nerur Sadhasiva Bramendrar temple in Karur district, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday banned the practice in the State.
However, before the court directive was pronounced, the ritual was completed on Tuesday afternoon for the 101st time with the devotees sensing legal trouble because Dalit organisations had petitioned various authorities questioning the age-old practice.
Nonetheless, the Karur Collector S Jayandhi faxed a report to the court through the Government Pleader saying she had sent instructions to the temple authorities to stop the ritual around 3 pm. Till the time of going to press, the Collector said she had not got a copy of the court’s order.
A resident of Velayuthapalayam in Karur, V Dalit Pandian, had moved the court seeking to ban the ritual at the 101st temple festival organised by the Nerur Sadhguru Sadhasiva Bramendrar Seva Trust as Government authorities had failed to respond to his pleas to stop the ritual. The organisers of the festival believe that dalits and non-Brahmins who ate food leftover by Brahmins and performed angapradakshanam (roll over) on dumped plantain leaves would be blessed.
Pandian’s advocate Narayanan argued that the practice degraded dignity and also amounted to caste discrimination.
He said the Supreme Court had last year in an appeal filed by the State of Karnataka vs Adivasi Budakattu Hitarakshana Vedike Karnataka, had categorically stated such an inhuman ritual shouldn’t be celebrated just to safeguard ancient regressive traditions.
Hearing the petition as an emergency post-lunch, a Bench of Justices S Manikumar and V M Velumani called for a report from the authorities.
Later, the Government Pleader Manoharan submitted a fax report from the Karur Collector stating the ritual had been stopped.
The Bench then directed the Chief Secretary, Karur Collector, Superintendent of Police and Revenue officials to ban the ritual permanently. The court also sought an action taken report from the Government.
However, in Karur the ‘festival’ was organised with the usual pomp even as a huge police force stood guard fearing trouble from Dalits.
Sources said that ‘devotees’ from across Tamil Nadu, parts of Maharashtra and Kerala also took part in the ritual.
“Some Brahmins also ate the leftover food,” claimed an organiser.
An annadhanam was also conducted on the occasion. Over 200 ‘devotees’ including women, who took a holy dip in the Cauvery, ate leftover food and rolled over the plantain leaves.