The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday revoked its ban on a customary event of a Shaivite math that involves disciples carrying a palanquin on their shoulders with their pontiff seated inside.
The revocation comes a day after heads of 4 Shaivite maths called on Chief Minister M K Stalin and following an outcry against the ban by devotees, the BJP and Hindu outfits. The customary event known as 'Pattina Pravesam', involves the pontiff being carried on a palanquin in and around the math premises by devotees.
While the Dharmapuram Aadheenam pontiff, Srilasri Masilamani Desika Gnanasambandha Paramacharya Swami told reporters in Mayiladuthurai District that Stalin has orally conveyed to spiritual leaders that they could go ahead with the traditional event on May 22 as per schedule, district authorities almost simultaneously issued an order cancelling the ban.
Aadheenam is a Tamil word that denotes a Shaivite math and its head. The pontiff of a Shaivite math is also referred to as a Aadheenakarthar.
The Mayiladuthurai district based Dharmapuram Aadheenam in the Cauvery delta region is an ancient math that is held in high esteem by devotees for its spiritual services. It is widely acknowledged for its work, spanning several centuries, in promoting the Tamil language.
On April 27, the Mayilduthurai Revenue Divisional Officer had banned the event citing apprehensions over law and order scenario in the wake of opposition by rationalist outfit, the Dravidar Kazhagam and other like minded outfits. The ban order also had claimed that the customary event went against Article 23 of the Constitution that barred forced labour. Those who had argued against the event had said it went against human dignity.
A man cannot be carried on shoulders by others, who are his equals. Devotees said the person who is set to be carried on shoulders on a palanquin is their Guru and that the act is voluntary. Carrying their spiritual master on a palanquin is a gesture of their reverence and a kind of thanksgiving to him for guiding them on their spiritual journey, according to disciples. The ban evoked an outrage among devotees with the head of the Madurai Aadheenam Sri la Sri Harihara Gnanasambanda Desika Parmacharya Swami vowing to carry the palanquin himself on the appointed date.
Later, the head of a Sri Vaishnavite math, Sri Shenbagamannar Sampathkumara Ramanuja Jeeyar Swami, condemned the ban and demanded that it be cancelled.
The Tamil Nadu BJP had claimed ulterior political motives behind the DMK regime banning the religious event. On May 4, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai had said that the ban should be withdrawn. "Otherwise, the BJP will conduct the event by defying the government ban. We are prepared and there is no second opinion about it," Annamalai had told reporters.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad too had demanded that the ban be cancelled. On April 19, when Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi paid a visit to the Dharmapuram Aadheenam, activists belonging to various outfits including the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and workers of Left parties had waved black flags opposing him for not sending the anti-NEET Bill to the Centre. Days ago, that Bill was forwarded by the Raj Bhavan to the Union government for Presidential assent.
Ravi had visited the math to inaugurate the pontiff's 'Gnana Ratha Yatra Pilgrimage' to take part in an event at the Kaleshwaram Sri Mukteshwara Swamy temple in Telangana. The Dravidar Kazhagam is the parent outfit of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).