Even as the temples were banned from allowing devotees for darshan, Christians were allowed to conduct a grand car festival on the same day in Tamil Nadu. As the videos of various church car festivals emerged in social media, many questioned the hypocrisy of DMK government.
On October 2, despite it being a Saturday on which all places of worship should have been closed for public access as per the rules, Punnaikayal Virgin Mary church conducted a grand car festival. October 2 was also one of the most important days for Hindus as it was the 3rd Saturday of the Tamil month Purattasi.
Through the month Hindus avoid meat and worship Shri Vishnu. Saturdays of this month in general and 3rd Saturday in particular are very important for Hindus as they keep fast and visit Vishnu temples on these days. However, following the Covid-19 norms, HRCE had kept barricades in front of the temple entrances and barred darshan for devotees. Many could be seen standing on the street yearning to get a look of the deities.
Yet on the same day, the 10th day of the annual festival, the Roman Catholic church in Punnaikayal, Thoothukudi had conducted a grand car festival with the participation of laity. It is to be remembered that even though pujas and rituals are performed as usual, devotees are banned from participating in the temple festivals. In fact all the temple festivals are being conducted inside the temple premises only.
What is more, the district administration has imposed special restrictions on the Dussehra festival in the same district. Kulasekarapattinam Mutharamman temple is perhaps the only temple in TN that celebrates ‘Dussehra’. All others celebrate Navratri. It is a grand affair in which even Hindus residing in neighbouring states and foreign countries come home to participate. The festival has been almost banned for the last two years.
Gathering at the temple to pay obeisance to the deity for having fulfilled their wishes is an important part of the festival that has been banned. Out of the 11 days 6 days including the weekends, devotees will be banned from visiting the temple. Yet, the 20 day festival of Virgin Mary went on without any hitch with Christians taking part even in the weekend.
This hypocrisy and partial behaviour has greatly outraged Hindus. BJP and Hindu organisations had staged a protest on October 7 against this illogical and intentional restriction on temples. They questioned the DMK government that when bars, theatres and shopping malls are opened for public access and the government arranges special buses for puja holidays, how could opening temples alone cause a rise in Covid-19 cases. So far the HRCE minister has been trying to escape saying that they are only following the guidelines set by the centre. It is not long before fed up with this skulduggery Hindus force open the temple doors.