Tamil Nadu has imposed a ban on a 500-year-old ritual in Mayiladuthurai near Tiruchy, hurting the sentiments of believers. The Mayiladuthurai district authorities have invoked the provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution to prohibit the event. Why is the State increasingly interfering in matters of tradition and belief? Is there anything a common man can do to secure his rights in such matters?
— Palanivel, Chidambaram
What was earlier accepted mode of transport is not for all time to come. Even to enter towns with animal-draught carts, the British enacted Hackney Carriages Act, by which their movements were regulated. In the 1970s, the Karunanidhi government abolished the hand-pulled rickshaws as it was offending human dignity. But knowing the plight /livelihood of the rickshaw-pullers, he made arrangements to get cycle rickshaws for them. Whether carrying the Swamiji in a palanquin by bearers is an essential religious practice is doubtful. The Andavan Swamigal, even in the late 60s, fixed a palanquin on the top of a motorised truck and used to travel sitting in a palanquin. Perhaps, Dharmapuram Swamigal can emulate that and avoid the controversies. The regressive practices have to change lest lawmakers can bring reform to such practices. There is no religious sanction behind such obsolete practices.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed here are of Justice K Chandru, who is providing guidance and direction based on his rich experience and knowledge of the law. This is not a substitute for legal recourse which must be taken as a follow-up if so recommended in these columns