The court has instructed the Hindu religious and charitable endowment (HR&CE) department to file its response to the PIL by Jan 8.

Midnight darshan at temples on New Years Eve cant be banned says Madras HC
news Law Friday, December 29, 2017 - 08:31

Hearing a plea seeking to ban midnight darshan at Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu, the Madras high court on Thursday refused to entertain it and said it can’t be banned, as per a report in The Times of India

A vacation bench headed by Justice MS Ramesh refused to pass any interim stay in the matter. 

It has instead instructed the Hindu religious and charitable endowment (HR&CE) department to file its response to the PIL, moved by advocate A Ashvathaman, by January 8.

The petitioner asked the court to direct the HR&CE department to take steps so that none of the temples under its control are kept open for darshan at midnight of December 31.

Advocate A Ashvathaman of Mylapore who filed the case claimed that Hindus celebrate only Tamil New Year on the first day of Tamil month Chithirai which falls on April 14 and not as per the Gregorian calendar. He added that the western New Year celebrations were not part of the Tamil Hindu culture and ethos. 

"I am not against people visiting temples during the day time on January 1. I am opposing darshan organised at midnight in blatant violation of the Agamas. The Saivite temples and Vaishnavite temples could be opened at midnight only on Maha Shivaratri and Vaikunda Ekadasi," he said.

Ashvathaman in his affidavit claimed that there were scientific reasons behind the Agama Sastras insisting on closing the temples after the Arthajama Puja around 9 pm and opening them during the Brahma Muhurtham between 4.30 am and 6 am every day, with the only exception being for Maha Shivaratri and Vaikunda Ekadasi.  

The petitioner contended that the Andhra Pradesh government had issued a notification against keeping temples open for New Year celebrations. 

The notification had clearly pointed out that the Ugadi (Telugu New Year) was the actual New Year as per the Hindu tradition and that spreading the English culture to Hindu temples was not appropriate.

The petitioner added that AP had also disapproved of the practice of temples spending huge amounts on floral decorations during the western New Year. 

Besides, keeping the temples open during midnight to welcome the western New Year violated Articles 25 (freedom to practice and propagate any religion) and 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the Constitution, the petitioner stated.