CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has refused to prohibit the congregation of devotees at the Thirunallar Saneeswara temple during the Sani Peyarchi festival scheduled on December 27. However, the court directed the Thirunallar temple administration and the Puducherry Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department to comply with the COVID-19 norms.
The issue pertains to SPS Nathan Alies Amurdeswaranathan President Parambarai Sthanigar Sangam moving a plea urging the court to restrain the Karaikal district administration and the HR and CE department from allowing devotees and the general public during the Sani Peyarchi festival starting from December 27 and February 12. The period of 40 days following the day of Sani Peyarchi is considered to be auspicious, also attracting a large number of devotees.
During the hearing, the Puducherry government submitted before Justice Anitha Sumanth that the festival will be conducted strictly in accordance with applicable rules, regulations and restrictions imposed on account of the ongoing pandemic.
The court concurring with the submissions made, in its order said, “A decision whether or not to open the festival to the public would have to be taken very prudently and cautiously bearing in mind the seriousness of the public health situation that we face today.”
Citing a recent Supreme Court judgement, the judge reiterated the need for proper implementation of existing SOPs and guidelines.
“In any event, the wearing of the mask at all times inside the temple, in a proper manner (so as to cover the nose and mouth) must be made compulsory with a mandatory fine imposed for non-compliance. This must be enforced strictly,” said the bench.
The court also directed the authorities concerned to hold a meeting on December 24 on the facilities and measures to be taken to hold the festival. The court issuing the directions closed the plea.