The Madras High Court on Friday stayed the holding of a two-day event of Art of Living (AoL), hours before it was scheduled to commence at the iconic Brihadeeswarar temple — a Unesco-designated heritage monument in Thanjavur.

A division bench of justices KK Sasidharan and PD Audikesavulu granted the stay after a petition filed earlier in the morning, by one N Venkat of Kumbakonam, a chartered accountant interested in protecting sanctity of temples. The court also ordered immediate removal of the structures put up at the temple complex by AoL. It directed the Thanjavur District Collector and Superintendent of Police, to oversee the order is implemented and file a report on Monday.

The two-day meditation programme titled “Unveiling Infinity” was scheduled to begin around 2 pm on December 7. Large and spacious tents with all paraphernalia were put up along the main temple wall where AOL founder Sri Sri Ravishankar was slated to address participants. Holding the event within the premises the temple triggered a controversy with heritage enthusiasts and political parties demanding its ban.

Joining the chorus, Dalit leader and Viduthalai Chiruthalaigal Katchi president Thol Thirumavalavan said, “Heritage and antiquity of the temple should be protected. The state government should intervene and stop the event at the temple complex. It is a commercial event and it is learnt that each participant has to pay ~3,000. Further, allowing an organisation identifying itself with a particular faith would create trouble,” he said Thursday.

The issue came to light when a Madurai-based journalist AR Meyyammai posted pictures of preparations at the temple.

Officials in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which manages the temple, said permission was granted for the event with strict conditions. Meanwhile, protests near the temple complex were called off after HC order.

First Published: Dec 07, 2018 23:16 IST

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