‘One section after hijab, another after dhoti’: Madras HC on plea for dress code in temples

By, Chennai
Feb 11, 2022 06:30 AM IST

A two-judge bench of the Madras high court frowned on the controversies around the dress code during Thursday’s hearing on a petition that sought directions to the government to prescribe a dress code for entering temples

Certain forces have raised controversies relating to dress code and it is spreading all over India, the Madras high court observed on Thursday during a hearing on petitions that sought orders to the government to prescribe a dress code to enter temples.

The Madras high court made the observations on a petition that wanted the bench to rule in favour of a dress code for entering temples. (ANI)
The Madras high court made the observations on a petition that wanted the bench to rule in favour of a dress code for entering temples. (ANI)

“It is really shocking, somebody is going for the ‘hijab’, some for the ‘topi’ (cap) and a few others for other things. Is it one country or is it divided by religion or something like that? This is quite surprising,” the bench of acting chief justice MN Bhandari and justice D Bharatha Chakravarthi observed.

“What is found from the current affairs is nothing but an effort to divide the country in the name of religion,” acting chief justice Bhandari said, underlining that India is a secular country.

Also Read: Karnataka students say right-wing groups gave them scarves

“What is paramount? The country or religion?” the court asked against the backdrop of a raging controversy over the hijab in Karnataka.

The bench made the observations while hearing a batch of PILs filed by Rangarajan Narasimhan of Srirangam in Tiruchirapalli district. Narasimhan wants the court to ban the entry of non-Hindus to temples and order the Tamil Nadu government’s department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) to ensure a dress code for devotees entering temples.

The petitioner asked for display boards, banning entry of non-Hindus, to be placed prominently at the entrance of the temples.

Also Read: Karnataka HC restrains students from wearing religious attire

When there is no particular dress code, then how can the question of putting up display boards arise, the bench asked.

But the petitioner persisted. The bench eventually advised him to produce evidence for his prayer. What part of the ‘agamas’ (rituals) refer to pants, dhotis and shirts, the court asked.

The judges also warned that he could be barred from appearing in person before the court and directed him to use appropriate words and, desist from quarrelling.

Tamil Nadu advocate general R Shanmugasundaram told the court that each temple follows its own custom and visitors belonging to other religions are allowed only up to the ‘kodi maram’ (flag mast). The court also sought the response of the government on the PIL.

Also Read: Decoding the legal wrangle on hijab row, religious freedom

Petitioner Narasimhan was last December accused by dancer Zakir Hussain of ousting him from the famous Ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam. The Chennai-based dancer’s police complaint said that though he has prayed at the temple several times, Narasimhan prevented him from entering the temple saying he was a Muslim.

Temples in Tamil Nadu, including the one in Srirangam, often put up boards stating: “Only Hindus are allowed beyond this limit”.

(With PTI inputs)

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    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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