Thanjavur: The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Friday denied permission for the medication camp planned by spritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Foundation at the Brihadeeshwarar temple in Tanjavur.
The court stayed the two-day event after hearing a public interest litigation(PIL) filed by N Venkatesh who sought cancellation of permission granted to a private event at a place of worship, which is also a UNESCO heritage site. Earlier, Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) and the state's Hindu religious and charitable endowments (HR &CE) department had granted permission for the meditation camp.
A huge tent was also erected within the Brihadisvara temple compound in Thanjavur district for the upcoming Art of Living. A controversy was broken out after an independent journalist, Ar. Meyyammai noticed the construction of the pandal in front of the temple and posted it on social media following a visit to the temple.
A division bench of Justice K K Sasidharan and Justice P D Audikesaavalu granted an interim stay on the impending event and directed the Thanjavur district administration to ensure all temporary structures set up on the temple premises are removed.
The 11th century Shaivaite temple, also known as the Tanjavur Big Temple, has been declared a World Heritage Site and one of the 'Great Living Chola Temples' by UNESCO and is being taken care of by the ASI since 1922. It is a meditation programme and there will be no noise or music in the premises, to disturb devotees or the sanctity of the temple, argued Art of Living.
Thanjavur is Ravishankar's hometown and he wished to have an event here. This isn't the first occasion when pandals are being put up of such a size. He also said that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department recommended to the ASI to allow the event after a comprehensive letter was submitted to them.
The issue may have risen due to Sri Sri Ravishankar's association with the BJP, some say.
This isn't the first time Art of Living, has offended people because of the location chosen. In 2016, the National Green Tribunal slapped a fine of Rs.5 crore on the establishment after an expert committee determined that the pollution caused at the World Culture Festival which was hung on the banks of Yamuna in New Delhi would take at least 10 years to restore.