The government had refused to grant permission to the religious event, stating that there might be a potential law and order issue if it is held.

27th pontiff of Dharmapuram Adheenam, Masilamani Desika Gnanasambandha Paramachariya Swamigal
news Controversy Friday, May 06, 2022 - 10:16

The Tamil Nadu Government has refused permission for a religious ritual by a mutt, where a seer is carried in a palanquin on the shoulders of the Matt's followers. The ritual, known as Pattina Pravesam, has been opposed by rationalists in the state on the grounds of human rights violations. The Mayiladuthurai district administration has refused permission for the event citing potential law and order issues if the event is conducted, and quoting the prohibition of forced labour in the Indian constitution. The state's denial for the ritual has sparked a controversy.

The ban order was issued on April 27 by Mayiladuthurai Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) J Balaji. According to the order, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) informed the district administration that allowing Pattina Pravesam would trigger law and order issues as some outfits, including the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) have opposed the practice and are planning to conduct protests. He had also submitted a report in this regard. The order cited three reasons for refusal of permission — the report of the DSP, Article 23 of the Indian Constitution (Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour) and potential law and order issue.

The order came even as arrangements were being made for the 27th pontiff of Dharmapuram Adheenam, Masilamani Desika Gnanasambandha Paramachariya Swamigal, to participate in the Pattina Pravesam on May 22.

Meanwhile, Madurai Aadheenam’s 293rd pontiff Sri La Sri Harihara Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramachariya Swamigal and Mannarkudi Jeeyer Sri Sendalangara Senbaga Ramanuja Swamigal visited the Kalimedu village in Thanjavur, where 11 persons died of electrocution during a temple chariot procession. Taking a strong stand supporting the Dharmapuram Adheenam while addressing the media, the Madurai seer alleged that one religion was being controlled in a country which proclaims itself to be secular.

“Pattina Pravesam is a 500-year-old tradition. Even the Britishers could not destroy Hinduism, what can these people do? God will take care of all of this,” he said. Stating that he was ready to sacrifice his life to ensure that Pattina Pravesam was performed, he said that he would carry the palanquin himself if the permission was denied. He also asked Chief Minister MK Stalin to intervene and resolve the issue.

He further added that he was being threatened by the DMK cadre because he was questioning them about enjoying the properties of temples belonging to the adheenam. He also said that he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in this regard. “They are in control of the temple land and threatened me saying that I cannot enter the town and do my ritual to god,” he had said.

Following this, the Mannarkudi Jeeyer addressed the media and said that no government, no movement or outfit had the prerogative to stop Pattina Pravesam.

“Pattina Pravesam is a part of Hindu tradition. This Pattina Pravesam will definitely take place and no one can stop it. Considering those traitors who are against Hindu dharma as national traitors, I am giving a warning now. If anti-Hindu activities are carried out, no MLA or minister of the ruling party can walk on the streets,” he threatened.

He said that while the ruling party claims to be unbiased, “they could not arrest a Christian pastor who was claiming that ‘the government exists from Kanniyakumari to Madurai because of us. We are the ones running the government.”

It is to be noted that the Dharmapuram Aadheenam, last week, declared that the Tamil Nadu government was “spiritual”. Aadheenams of several temples met with CM Stalin at the Secretariat, on April 27.

Meanwhile, the BJP joined in to object to the issue. The party’s state president Annamalai expressed fierce opposition to the government’s stand and took to social media to say that he would be present to carry the palanquin if needed. “Ban on Dharmapura Adheenam’s centuries old ‘Pattina Pravesham’ is an affront to TN’s civilisational culture. I’ll be personally there to carry the Adhinam or palanquin on my shoulders. We will request the Adhinam to allow us to conduct the event by overturning this illegal order. DMK party that is built on sheer sycophancy doesn’t understand this difference! Servitude is serving one’s family, in this case Gopalapuram, by sheer sycophants & serving one’s guru is through the institution of ‘Pattina Pravesham’ @BJP4TamilNadu is ready to make this happen”(sic),” he said.

The Hindu reported him saying that ‘the Dharmapuram Aadheenam existed even before the ideology of the DMK was born’. “Pattina Pravesam was held even when M Karunanidhi was the CM. There is politics behind the ban,” he said and questioned if CM Stalin was calling his father M Karunanidhi a fool as he had allowed the event to be held during his five terms as the CM. Annamalai also said that invoking Article 23 of the Constitution was not applicable to the religious event, as the pupils who are carrying the palanquins consider this as a divine service to god. The PMK also supported this and spoke in the Assembly, when opposition leader and AIADMK joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami raised the issue.

Stating that the event was being held for more than five centuries, Palaniswami said that those who carry the palanquin live in the place belonging to the Aadheenam. “The devotees wholeheartedly carrying their guru in a palanquin, it is a spiritual event,” he said.

Meanwhile, TNIE quoted Kali Poongundran, deputy president of DK saying that the practice had been abandoned since 1962, and the mutt was trying to revive it.

The mutt authorities meanwhile maintain that this is an internal ceremony where families who live inside the mutt show their reverence to the seer.

CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan, reacting to the issue, said that the act of one human carrying another one was done in a society which had slavery, in a feudal society. "Now it has become incompatible with basic human decency. So, it would only be right to change the palanquin carrying event in Pattina Pravesam. The government order should be implemented.”

Meanwhile, DMK and its allies have taken contradictory stands on the issue. Congress Floor Leader K Selvaperunthagai quoted an incident related to Periyar and a Sankaracharya. “When Periyar asked Sankaracharya not to travel by palanquin, he gave up the practice and started walking,” he said, and added that the practice of carrying a human being must be banned. However, DMK’s Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department P Sekar Babu said that the issue will be resolved amicably before the event on May 22.

Sekar Babu, responding to the issue raised in the Assembly, also said that the Chief Minister will be taking a decision in the issue and assured that it would affect neither the Adheenam nor the Pattina Pravesam. Sekar Babu also claimed that he contacted the seer after Stalin asked him to do so, and he did not make any negative comment. “Some want to politicise the issue to protect themselves from their own wrongdoings. The CM will take a call without affecting the Adheenam and the Pattina Pravesam event. The event is scheduled for May 22, and the government will take an amicable decision after talks with the Adheenam,” The New Indian Express reported him saying.

Incidentally, Members of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), CPI and CPI(M), on April 19, staged a black flag demonstration against Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi at Mayiladuthurai over the NEET face-off. The Governor was on his way to Sri Abhirami Amirtha Kadeswarar Thirukadaiyur temple at Dharmapuram Adheenam matt, when the incident took place.

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