Kerala High Court on Tuesday ruled that a worshipper can only arrange marriages in a temple if the temple has the infrastructure already in place. During an argument that focused on the heavily adorned mandapam at the Guruvayoor Temple, a Division Bench composed of Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice K Babu remarked as such while hearing a suo moto petition.
Online media reported that the temple was heavily decorated with cutouts and tree branches in addition to flowers for the wedding of Ganesh Pillai, son of a prominent businessman and Padma Shri award winner Ravi Pillai. The Court had taken suo moto cognizance of the matter because of an alleged violation of Covid-19 protocols. The Board has pleaded with the Thrissur ASP, Collector, and Magistrate in the matter while seeking an affidavit on the management of affairs of the temple from the Board.
In today’s proceedings, the Court played a video clip of the said marriage that was uploaded on social media and screen shared. In response to the Court’s brief viewing of the ceremony, the Girivayoor Devaswom Board was asked a series of questions regarding the decorations, the number of attendees, and the presence of private security on the temple premises. Mr. Vipindas said he would seek directions regarding the matter. The Court stated, ‘We recognize the right of every worshipper to conduct a marriage at the Guruvayoor temple. However, this right is not absolute, and there are regulations’.
The Court asked the Board the following questions:
1. According to the law, what are the duties and responsibilities of the Board authorities? Is there a duty breach here?
2. Were any devotees prevented from entering the premises on the day of the contested marriage?
3. Was a private secretary hired on the day of the wedding?
The footage shows an abundance of security personnel in black uniforms and vehicles. What is that, and are there any regulations regarding private security? They acted like black cats. Were they private security personnel? The Court was informed that the said security personnel were appointed by the Guruvayoor Devaswom Board. According to the Court, ‘the right to worship is a civil right with accepted reservations. The Board is bound to manage temple affairs in the public interest and according to custom’.
As shown in the photographs attached to the online report, the east gate of the temple was decorated magnificently for the occasion. Furthermore, it was alleged that the Board had taken a resolution to permit floral decorations in the Nadappanthal for the said marriage, but no permission was granted to decorate it with cutouts and tree branches.