Madurai: Tamil Nadu would go to polls on April 18, the same day that Chithirai festival falls. The Election Commission (EC) has sought details on whether the day coincides with the religious festival in Madurai district.

A day after the EC announced Lok Sabha poll date for the state of Tamil Nadu, many were quick to make the connection with the Tamil festival of Chithirai.

The festival that is celebrated over two weeks, usually takes place in and around the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai. The festival attracts a large number of devotees from across the state and country.

Addressing the media in Madurai, district collector Natarajan confirmed that the administration had been asked details regarding the holidays in the district.

“We have been asked for holiday dates in the district. We have informed that April 19 is a holiday on the day of Chithirai. That's what the Election Commission asked us and that's what we've replied. The representation (on the dates) clashing would be taken to the notice of the Election Commission,” he said.

The collector also indicated that areas affected by the festival could witness an extension in polling time on the day of voting to enable voters to cast their ballot.

April 18 is also commemorated as Maundy Thursday, observed a day prior to Good Friday.

Politicians from the state have expressed concern that voter turnout may be low on account of the date clash.

Meanwhile, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has been moved over the issue with a petitioner seeking to change the date of polling on account of the festival.

However, in the press briefing, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that religious festivals had, in fact, been taken into account.

“While finalising the poll dates, examination schedules of various state boards, CBSE, other relevant factors like various festivals including festivals which have religious bindings (for example, when people are fasting, etc), harvest season in certain parts of the country as well as the information obtained from the weather department are also adequately factored in,” he said in the press briefing.

The state will face Lok Sabha elections on April 18 for the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies along with bypolls for 18 of the 21 Assembly seats lying vacant.

By-elections will not be held for Ottapidaram, Aravakurichi and Tiruparankundram Assembly constituencies.