The order comes after it stayed the meditation event organised by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living foundation on December 7.

AOL event fallout HC bans private events inside Thanjavur big temple premisesWikimedia Commons/ Ananda kumar [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
news Law Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 17:57

The Madurai bench of Madras High Court ordered a ban on private events inside Thanjavur Brahadeeswarar temple complex on Thursday.

A bench consisting of justices KK Sasidharan and PD Audikesavalu, on Thursday, ordered that the Thanjavur temple, which is a UNESCO Heritage site, was culturally important and that it stands as an example for temple architecture. It is necessary to preserve the culture and tradition of the temple and hence no permission shall be granted to conduct private events within the temple premises.

The order came on a petition filed by N Venkatesh, a resident of Kumbakonam, against the meditation event organised on December 7 by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living (AOL) foundation. The petition sought a stay for the event saying the Art of Living Foundation had been fined by the National Green Tribunal for causing damage to Yamuna river bank during an event conducted in 2016. Questioning why an offender was being allowed to carry out an event at a UNESCO world heritage site, the petitioner had also pointed out that putting up tents could weaken the 1000-year-old structure.

Adding that only authorised religious events be conducted inside the temple, the judges stated the officers must ensure that those events happen in accordance with the religious traditions of the temple. The judges also added that the officers must take care to preserve and protect the temple’s legacy, tradition and archaeological symbols.

The court had earlier ordered an interim stay on the event hours before it was scheduled to begin on December 7. Protests had broken out in front of the temple with people and political parties condemning the Archeological Survey of India’s (ASI) decision to grant permission to AOL.

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