CHENNAI: The government officials overseeing the Sri Bhadrakaliamman temple at Kallimedu village in Nagapattinam district are under statutory and moral obligation to ensure that the Dalit community members had a right of worship and perform rituals in connection with the Aadi festival under the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, the Madras High Court said on Tuesday.
Justice M Sathyanarayanan made this observation while passing orders on a writ petition from M Shanmugavelu and two others of the village, and expressed hope that the petitioners would be alive to the said situation and work out some compromise, so that the temple festival was performed without any problem or hitch at least in the next year during the Tamil month of Aadi.
The judge was disposing of a writ petition from the trio, which sought to quash an order dated July 30 last of the Nagapattinam District Collector, cancelling the Aadi festival at the temple due to a dispute over mandagapadi and consequently direct the Collector and the HR & CE Joint Commissioner in Thanjavur to conduct the festival as per Agama principles and to enquire about the excesses committed by them.
According to petitioners, three special mandagapadies were performed by Kallimedu West, East and Thamaraipulam village people from time immemorial.
At Kallimadu village, a section of Pazhan Kallimedu habitation people raised the right to perform mandagapadi. They moved the High Court also on the issue in 2015. They had also threatened to embrace Islam, if they were not allowed to perform the mandagapadi. The District Collector called for a peace meeting on July 30 in the presence of State Textiles minister OS Manian. At the end of the meeting, the Collector stipulated certain conditions and declared that the festival stood cancelled.
Petitioners contended that the action of the Collector and the order were unlawful. According to them, the Collector had no power to alter, stipulate conditions or cancel the rituals and procedures which were observed/performed from time immemorial.
It had created depression in the minds of the local villagers and affected their sentiments, they added.