CHENNAI: In all likelihood, it is going to be a muted Karthigai Deepam festival this year at Tiruvannamalai's famous Arunachaleswarar Temple.
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, devotees may not be permitted to take part in the festivities considering the submissions made by the temple administration on Wednesday before the Madras High Court. Temple authorities said they were planning to restrict the festival within the premises without public participation.
“The car festival also will not be conducted as we expect about 5 lakh devotees would participate if permitted. For the Deepam festival, every year 20 lakh devotees participate,” advocate Sriram said, representing the administration. However, he added that a final decision would be taken in a couple of days after holding a meeting with the district administration.
This was in response to a plea filed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad seeking directions to the temple authorities to conduct the festival.
A division bench of Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice R Hemalatha adjourned the hearing to November 18.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad counsel ARL Sundaresan submitted that the Karthigai Deepam festival is one of the biggest annual religious congregations conducted in Tamil Nadu. “While so, this year the temple administration has completely kept devotees including residents of the town in the dark without any announcement on conducting the festival which commences on November 17,” Sundaresan said.
Pointing out that the Puri Jagannath Temple festival in Odisha was conducted in a similar manner with the approval of the Supreme Court, the petitioner wanted the court to direct the state authorities to take steps to conduct the function.
To this, the bench said, “The Puri temple festival was permitted because the Odisha government agreed to conduct the festival. But the Tamil Nadu government has not taken any such decision.”