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Kerala High Court denies request for saffron flags at Hindu temple, says temple premises not a place for political activities

The saffron flag unifies devotees, fostering a sense of belonging and reverence, making it an essential emblem of Hindu faith and identity. The Kerala High Court has now rejected such flags at a Hindu temple.

On September 5, 2023, the Kerala High Court dismissed a petition seeking approval to install saffron flags within the Muthupilakkadu Sree Parthasarathy temple premises. Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan V emphasised that utilising sacred temple grounds for political purposes, particularly by displaying flags linked to specific political parties, is impermissible.

In the judgment, the court said, “Temples stand as beacons of spiritual solace and tranquillity, their sanctity and reverence being of paramount importance. Such hallowed spiritual grounds must not be diminished by political manoeuvrings or attempts at one-upmanship. The actions and intentions of the petitioners are clearly at odds with the serene and sacred atmosphere to be maintained in the temple.”

Two individuals, claiming to be devotees of the Muthupilakkadu Sree Parthasarathy temple, filed the petition. They established the “Parthasarathy Bakthajanasamithi” organisation in 2022, with a focus on the temple’s well-being and welfare of its worshippers. They asserted that their efforts to display saffron flags on the temple premises during special occasions and festivals were consistently thwarted by the respondents, who allegedly wielded political influence. Consequently, they sought a Court order to compel the police to provide them with protection, preventing any hindrance to their flag-raising activities. Advocates PT Sheehish, A Abdul Rahman, Aparna V Devassia, and Hemanth H represented the petitioners in the case.

In opposition to the plea, the Kerala State Government Pleader Appu PS contended that granting permission to the petitioners to adorn the temple with flags and decorations associated with a specific political party would equate to transforming the temple into a battleground for political rivalry. He further stated that several altercations within the temple premises had arisen due to the petitioners’ actions, with one of them having a history of involvement in multiple criminal cases. Additionally, the temple’s Administrative Committee had passed a resolution explicitly prohibiting the placement of flags, banners, or any materials affiliated with political parties or organisations within a 100-meter radius of the Kanikkavanchi.

The Government Pleader additionally cited a High Court judgment from 2020, wherein the court had instructed the police to eliminate all such installations from temple premises. After evaluating the opposing arguments, the Court ultimately rejected the petition.

The court said in its judgment, “The petitioners have not demonstrated any legitimate authority to conduct temple rituals as they have prayed for. Furthermore, they cannot be allowed to erect flags or festoons in or around the temple, in light of the orders issued by this Court and decision taken by the administrative committee.”

Significance of saffron flags seen in temple

The saffron flag, known as the “Bhagwa Dhwaj” or “Kesari Flag,” holds profound significance in Hinduism. It symbolises various spiritual and cultural aspects of the Sanatan Dharma. Saffron, representing purity and spirituality, is associated with the sacred fire, a central element of Hindu rituals. The flag often bears symbols like the Om, signifying the ultimate reality, and the Trishul, the divine weapon of Lord Shiva. It is seen during religious processions, ceremonies, and atop temples, signifying the presence of the divine. The saffron flag unifies devotees, fostering a sense of belonging and reverence, making it an essential emblem of Hindu faith and identity. The Kerala High Court has now rejected such flags at Hindu temples citing the reasons of politically motivated attempts of one-upmanship.

This is not the first incident when the saffron flags on temples are systematically banned in Kerala. In March 2023, the Karikkakam Chamundi temple in Thiruvananthapuram was banned by police from displaying the saffron flag. The move came soon after the Vellayani temple was banned from doing the same.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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