Indian religion

Madras HC: What is essential, the country or the religion?

Expressing concern over the lack of religious harmony over the dress code, the Madras High Court debated on Thursday which is paramount – country or religion.

Hearing a motion seeking an order to only allow ‘Sanatana Dharma’ believers in Hindu temples to prevent non-Hindus from entering the temples, the court said, “What is paramount? The country or the religion? It is shocking that someone goes behind a hijab and someone goes behind a dhoti.

The First Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy observed a batch of pleas offered by Rangarajan Narasimhan of Srirangam asking for restricted entry into Hindu temples.

Lately, the court said, some forces have raised controversies regarding the dress code and it is spreading all over India. “Is it one country or is it divided by religion or something. It’s quite surprising,” the bench said.

The petitioner demanded ordinances imposing a strict dress code for worshippers, banning non-Hindus from entering temples across the state and a ban on business activities on temple premises. The petition stated that there should be notice boards at the entrance to the temple prescribing the dress code and prohibiting the entry of non-Hindus.

Recalling that India is a secular country, the bench wondered how the question arises of posting dress codes when no particular dress code exists.

The bench asked the claimant to produce evidence of his claim, specifying which part of the Agamas (rituals) refer to trousers, dhotis and shirts. The court also warned the petitioner not to appear in person in court and ordered him to use appropriate words.

Meanwhile, State Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram said each temple follows its own custom and visitors from other religions are only allowed up to the flagpole.

The court adjourned the hearing for 10 days for the petitioner to report incidents where such a violation was found.