The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday issued an interim stay on a two-day event organised by Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living at the Brihadisvara temple in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district, reported Puthiyathalaimurai TV.
The court was hearing a petition filed against the event being held at the temple, which said it will affect the temple’s sanctity, reported The News Minute. The petitioner reportedly cited that the organisation had been held responsible for damage done to the Yamuna banks in Delhi when it had held a massive festival there in 2016.
The Archaeological Survey of India had granted the organisation permission to hold the event at the UNESCO-protected monument. The state government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department also reportedly played a role in helping the organisation receive permission.
Following the court’s order, Art of Living said it is shifting the venue for the event to a private property. “There is no change in the schedule of the event,” the event’s programme coordinator Pradeep Kumar told Puthiyathalaimurai TV.
The organisation’s media coordinator Raji Swaminathan, however. claimed opposition to the event could be politically motivated. “Sri Sri Ravishankar is apolitical but he is linked to the BJP for no reason,” Swaminathan said. “These protests seem to be a targetted campaign with political viewpoints in mind. This is just a perception issue.”
Meanwhile, around 30 members of the Tamil Desiya Padhakaapu Yekkam staged a protest outside the temple on Friday against the event being held there.
The event first received attention on social media on Wednesday when Madurai-based independent journalist Ar Meyyammai visited the temple and tweeted that the UNESCO World Heritage site was being disturbed for the programme.
A space on the left of the temple’s entrance, between the fortified outer wall and the main temple structure housing the sanctum sanctorum, had been earmarked for the event, Frontline said. A temporary structure reportedly capable of accommodating nearly 5,000 people has been erected in that space.