Kerala High Court bans bursting of firecrackers at places of worship during odd hours

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Fireworks during a Thalappoli festival at Marattil Kottaram Bhagavathy Temple in Maradu near Ernakulam. File photo: Manorama

The High Court of Kerala on Friday issued a ban on bursting of firecrackers during odd hours at places of worship.

A single bench of Justice Amit Rawal has directed collectors of all districts to raid and seize crackers illegally stored at religious places, reported Live Law.

The court issued the interim order on a plea that sought intervention in the bursting of crackers at places of worship. Crackers are often burst during festivals at temples and churches. The Thrissur Pooram has one of the most popular display of pyrotechnics in the state.

Justice Rawal said that there is "no commandment in any of the holy book to burst crackers for pleasing the God".

It is widely accepted that the bursting of firecrackers contribute to noise and air pollution.

The loud plea that the court heard
The high court order came on a petition filed on December 19, 2014, by six people, all natives of Maradu in Ernakulam district. The petitioners wanted the high court to ban the fireworks conducted at the Marattil Kottaram Bhagavathy Temple every year as part of the Thalappoli festival there.

The petitioners, who reside near the temple, said their families including children were grossly affected by the adverse consequences of the fireworks. "The fireworks, conducted during February – March every year are carried out by the organisers in such a way causing havoc to the petitioners and other residents in the locality," the petition stated.

The petitioners said the fireworks and explosion of dynamites in a residential area of the locality have never been a part of the ritual or custom of the temple and the activity has no religious or customary basis. They said the fireworks were being carried out without obtaining permission from statutory authorities.

The petitioners said accidents have been frequent during the fireworks at the temple. They cited a February 2008 incident in which two persons were killed and nearly 30 injured in an accident during a sample fireworks display held as part of the festival. The first petitioner's aged father was severely injured when a 'gundu' (a high-decibel explosive) fell in front of his house in 1993. Another petitioner's son was injured when a dynamite fell on the terrace of his house during the 2011 festival.

The petition also mentions an incident in which the festival organisers allegedly planted an explosive in front of the newly built house of a petitioner calling it a ritual. The house and the car parked on the premises were damaged in the impact of the explosion.

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A sample fireworks display ahead of Thrissur Pooram. File photo: Manorama

The petitioners pointed out that the fireworks at the Maradu temple could not be compared with those conducted during festivals in other parts of the state including the famed Thrissur Pooram. "Such fireworks are conducted on huge grounds without any risk to the residents in the locality. In the instant case, the fireworks are conducted every year virtually at the doorsteps of the petitioners. The organisers, who are financially and politically powerful in the locality, have the political clout to derail any executive action to prevent his above-stated illegal activities. The fate

of previous enquiry reports is standing testimonies to the same," the petition said.

Three of the petitioners stated that they were ardent devotees of the deity of the temple while the other petitioners, though belonging to other religious faith, said they are the well-wishers of the temple.

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