The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court Friday stayed the two-day event of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living at Brihadisvara temple in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district. The event was proposed to begin from today.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site where private functions are prohibited.
The event had triggered a row over the initial permission granted by the Archeological Survey of India to hold it in the temple premises. The HC order came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Venkatesan of Kumbakonam on Friday, stating that the event organised by AOL affects the sanctity of the temple and should be banned.
After hearing the petition on Friday afternoon, the judges said the Archaeological Survey of India shouldn’t give permission to organise such events at temples that come under its jurisdiction.
“The temporary structures erected inside the temple premises should be removed with immediate effect. The District Collector and Superintendent of Police should confirm the same,” the judges added.
Pradeep Kumar, one of the organisers of the two-day event said: “We organised the event for spiritual reasons. The authorities issued us a set of 15 rules which we followed. We have been working on the event for the past 15 days and everyone knew about it. Suddenly today we were informed that certain people with good intentions have asked for a ban on our event. Despite the hurdles, we will still go ahead and organize the two-day event somewhere in our private land.”
Another of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s three-day event called the ‘World Cultural Festival’ held in March 2016 invited the wrath of environmentalists and the National Green Tribunal which ruled the festival was “responsible” for “causing damage and environmental degradation” to the Yamuna floodplains.
The judgment then noted that the WCF had caused “serious pollution on the floodplain of the river” as nearly 35 lakh people had gathered at the site.