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Madras High Court prohibits vulgar songs, dances at Dussehra celebrations

With the commercialization of festivities sliding into the degeneration more and more with time, some people are approaching legal authorities to save their religious and cultural beliefs and traditions. Such is a case of B. Ramkumar Adityan who approached the Madurai bench of Madras High Court to seek prohibition orders on vulgar songs and dances at Dussehra celebrations.

Petitioner Adityan said: “Initially, these groups performed folk music and dance. Later, some of these groups started to hire sub actors and actress from Cine Industry for payment to perform dances in street, which mobilized more crowds. Now it becomes a fashion, lot of Dasara groups started to hire TV serial actors and actress and sub actors and actress from Tamil and Hindi Cinema Industries. These hired dancers do not observe any Viradham, mingle with Dasara Groups and are performing dances for Cinema Songs and their dance is obscene and vulgar which affects religious beliefs and against age old Traditional System and Culture…”.

Not surprisingly, the court, taking cognizance of the problem, has directed the Tamil Nadu police authorities to prohibit obscene and vulgar song and dance performances at the upcoming Dasara (Dussehra) festival in the State.

Adityan has been fighting the degenerative progression for years and produced photographic evidence of how the celebrations of religious and traditional cultural practices have been strangled to make way for monetizing the who festive season.

The photographs conspicuously show that such dances are performed by paid dancers exhibiting obscene and vulgar postures making mockery of the traditional culture and customs to be followed in Dasara festival and denigrating the Hindu religious sentiments,” a division bench of Justices R Mahadevan and J Sathya Narayana Prasad noted.

The court noted that petitioner Adityan had also cited the lists of songs for which the paid dancers are exhibiting obscene dance with vulgar words.

“Portrayal of women in an indecent fashion itself is an offence under the provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1981”, the judges noted.

Therefore, it directed the authorities in Thoothukudi district to ensure that previous orders of the Court and a consequent memorandum issued in 2019 by the Chennai Director General of Police prohibiting any obscene displays during Dasara festivities and processions, are implemented in full spirit.

“We direct that the obscene and vulgar dance performance should be specifically prohibited by the Police authorities in the forthcoming festival and if any one violates the same, appropriate action shall be taken against them in line with the abovesaid Circular Memorandum,” the order stated.

The order was issued on a public interest litigation (PIL) that urged the court to direct the police to secure undertakings from all Dasara organisers, sound and music system suppliers, dance performers etc., stating that they will only play devotional songs and not Kuthu Pattu (dance numbers).

Adityan pleaded this was essential for “protecting the traditional culture, traditional system, and religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees.

Read full judgement here.