Kerala High Court | Source: PTI
Kochi: The Kerala High Court has held that politics has no role to play in the conduct of daily worship and temple festivals, while observing that neither a devotee nor the district administration has the legal right to insist on using a specific colour for decorative materials used in ceremonies.
In its order on February 14, a division bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar said a devotee has no legal right to insist that saffron or orange coloured decorative materials alone should be used for festivals in a temple under the management of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).
Similarly, the district administration or the police cannot insist that only 'politically neutral' coloured decorative materials be used for such festivals.
The court made the observation while disposing of two petitions filed in connection with a case relating to the conduct of Kaliyoottu festival at Major Vellayani Bhadrakali Devi Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
The temple is under the management of TDB.
One of the petitioners alleged that on February 7, when the decoration work at the temple premises commenced, the police orally directed them to stop the erection of arches, festoons and tinsels with saffron colours, and asked them to use multi-colour items for decoration in the shrine's premises.
The court, in its order, said that the right to worship is a civil right, "of course in an accustomed manner and subject to the practice and tradition in each temple".
"A worshipper or a devotee has no legal right to insist that saffron/orange coloured decorative materials alone are used for festivals in a temple under the management of the Travancore Devaswom Board.
"Similarly, the district administration or the police cannot insist that only ‘politically neutral' coloured decorative materials are used for temple festivals. Politics has no role to play in the conduct of daily worship and ceremonies and festivals in temples," the order said.
Nemom police had filed a counter affidavit saying the district magistrate had given a direction to remove all flags, banners, flex boards and other decorative works put up on roads after a dispute between rival groups of devotees backed by political parties affected the law and order situation.
However, the writ petition alleged that the District Magistrate and the local police were creating trouble in the conduct of the temple festival, "misusing their powers, under the influence of the local Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers".
The police informed the court that it has not made any restrictions over use of saffron colour in the rituals such as Nilathilporu, Paranettu, etc and have insisted that saffron be used with other colours in the decoration in public places. PTI