NAGAPATTINAM : After a last ditch attempt to conduct the temple festival with the cooperation of both caste Hindus and Dalits failed, the district administration on Saturday decided to cancel the annual Aadi festival of the disputed Badrakaliamman Temple till the High Court of Madras decided on the matter.
The decision was taken after a two-and-a-half-hour-long peace meeting on the temple premises in Kallimedu, attended by Handlooms and Textile Minister and local leader O S Manian, District Collector S Palanisamy and Joint Commissioner of HR&CE Department, did not yield an amicable solution.
“In order to maintain law and order in the area, the district administration has decided to halt the Badrakalimman Temple festival,” Palanisamy told the media after the meeting. There are no restrictions against offering prayers at the temple, but only on the festival, he added.
During the meeting, both sides refused to accept the proposals suggested by the officials to conduct the five-day Aadi festival that was scheduled to commence on August 8. “The caste Hindus were against commencing the festival a day in advance so that the Dalits can get one day to exclusively manage the festival. Meanwhile, the Dalit community members were not in favour of partial ‘Mandagapadi’ right only during daytime on one of the five days,” Nagapattinam Revenue Divisional Officer Jeyaraj told Express.
As both sides stuck to their stand, the district administration decided to stop the festival till the court passed a verdict, he added.
Caste Hindus opposed the proposal of commencing the festival a day early, maintaining that it was against tradition and mores of the temple. The Dalits on the other hand were firm in their stand to obtain a full day ‘Mandagapadi’ right as the other three days of fest are managed entirely by the caste Hindus.
The matter had come to the limelight after representatives of the 200-odd Dalits families threatened to embrace Islam in protest if they were not ensured equal rights at the temple. They had also filed a writ petition.