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