Madras HC: Devotees to Seek Permission for Non-Veg Offerings at Temple Festivals

Madras Hc Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 22 September 2023 at 11:41 IST

The Madras High Court, Madurai Bench, has ruled that devotees wishing to offer non-vegetarian food at Selva Vinayagar, Nallatchi Amman, Thalavaimadasamy, and Utchimakali Amman Temples must submit an application to the Joint Commissioner and provide evidence establishing it as a traditional practice.

The Court concluded a Writ Petition that sought directions against the State to ensure peaceful conduct of the festivals with adequate security.

The Court acknowledged that the Petitioners follow Saivism, a tradition that involves offering vegetarian food to deities. Consequently, the Court emphasized the importance of respecting their sentiments.

Justice B. Pugalendhi stated, “If the other groups want to offer non-vegetarian food to the deity, they can file an application before the 2nd respondent / the Joint Commissioner, adduce evidence, establish the same, and get their grievance redressed. If such an application is filed, the 2nd respondent shall consider the same and pass appropriate orders, without being influenced by any of the observations made in this order.”

The Petition was filed to seek directions for providing adequate security for the temple festival in Selva Vinayagar Temple, Nallatchi Amman Temple, Thalavaimadasamy Temple, and Utchimakali Amman Temple, in accordance with existing customary rituals.

The Petitioner argued that only vegetarian food was traditionally offered to the deities during festivals. He identified himself as a member of the Saiva Pillaimar community and stated that his ancestors had established the contested temples. The Proposed Respondents contended that there had been an enduring tradition of offering non-vegetarian food during the festivals.

The Court acknowledged that the Petitioners followed Saivism and upheld a tradition of exclusively offering vegetarian food to their deity during festivals. Although another group asserted that non-vegetarian food was also a part of the tradition, the Court stressed the need to respect the sentiments of the Petitioners.

“The petitioners are Saivaites, and they have their own practice of offering only vegetarian foods to the deity during the festival. Though the other group claims that there is a practice to offer non-vegetarian food to the deity, they have to respect the sentiment of the petitioner,” noted the Court.

As a result, the Court disposed of the Petition.

Case Title: E. Sankaran v. The District Collector

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