Chennai: The Madras high court has observed that the authorities are under statutory and moral obligation to permit Dalits to worship and perform rituals in connection with Aadi festival  at Sri Badrakaliamman temple at Kallimedu village in Nagapattinam district.

When a petition filed by  M. Shanmugavelu and two others of the village came up for hearing on Tuesday, Justice M. Sathyanarayanan hoped the petitioners will be alive to the said situation and work out some compromise, so that at least next year during ‘Aadi’ month, the temple festival is performed without any problem.

The petitioners sought to quash a Collector’s order of July 30 cancelling the Aadi festival at the temple due to a dispute over mandagapadi’ (sponsoring a day’s event) in the temple’s five day fest.They also sought a directive to the Collector and Joint Commissioner, HR&CE, Thanjavur, to conduct the festival as per Agama principles and to enquire about the excesses committed by them.

In the petition they said three special ‘mandagapadis’ were offered by people in Kallimedu West, East and Thamaraipulam villages. A section of people in Pazhan Kallimedu wished to perform  the ‘mandagapadi’ at Kallimedu village. A petition regarding this was filed in high court last year.

Recently, a section of Dalits had threatened to convert to Islam if the government failed to get them the right to host mandagapadi. As tension persisted, on July 30 the Collector held a peace meeting. The Collector stipulated certain conditions and declared that the festival stood  cancelled. The petitioners contended that the order violated law and he had no power to alter, stipulate conditions or cancel rituals and procedures which were performed for ages.

Disposing of the petition, the judge said in the light of the mandate cast upon authorities under the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947, the HR and CE authorities and executive officer of Sri Badrakaliamman temple are under statutory and moral obligation to permit SC people to have a right of worship and perform rituals in connection with Aadi festival.

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