Ban on centuries-old tradition stirs controversy in Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu government's order regarding the prohibition on an almost 400-year-old religious ceremony in the Mayiladuthuria district has stirred tensions in the state. The event Pattina Pravesam refers to the practice of devotees transporting a deity or the mutt's chief in a palanquin. Officials allege that the practice breaches human rights, but organizers insist that it is voluntary.
Why does this story matter?
This isn't the first time that the practice has been criticized. In 2020, the Pattina Pravesam rite at Dharmapuram Adheenam was slammed, particularly from Dravidar Kazhagam head K Veeramani. He had denounced it, claiming that it degraded human dignity. He protested the practice again this time, but this time the administration agreed to act on his concerns, especially following Governor RN Ravi's visit.
What does the ban order say?
The prohibition order issued by the Mayiladuthurai district administration has invoked Article 23 of the constitution which bans the use of humans in traffic or similar "forced labor." The order was issued by Revenue Division Officer J Balaji after an objection by rationalists to the ceremony saying it violates human rights. However, the organizers say the practice is voluntarily followed by devotees.
What is Pattina Pravesam?
Pattina Pravesam is a centuries-old ceremony and literally translates to "entering a city." According to a Times Now report, the original purpose of the practice was to pay respect to the pontiff who arrived in the city by carrying him in an ornamented palanquin. The ritual at the Dharmapuram Adheenam requires the pontiff to be carried in a silver palanquin.
One of the oldest Shaivate mutts
Aadheenam is a Tamil term that refers to both a Shaivite mutt and its leader. Aadheenams is the plural version of the term. Dharmapuram Aadheenam is one of the oldest Shaivite mutts in Tamil Nadu, located in the Mayiladuthurai district in the Cauvery delta area.
How did the religious leaders react?
Religious leaders have slammed the ban order, claiming that the practice is voluntary. "If they interfere with Hindu beliefs, none of the ministers of this Government will be able to walk on the road," said Vaishnavaite Guru Mannargudi Sri Sendalangara Jeeyar. Meanwhile, Sri La Sri Harihara Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Swamigal, another religious guru, has sought Chief Minister MK Stalin's intervention.
We are ready to defy the ban: Tamil Nadu BJP
The BJP's state unit chief K Annamalai said the banning of Pattina Pravesam has hurt the sentiments of people and Gurus. "The government should show respect to Aadheenams. 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," he told the media at a press conference.