Saturday, March 6, 2010

[ZESTCaste] At Tamil Nadu temple, caste is history

At Tamil Nadu temple, caste is history

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 01.55am IST

MADURAI: Three years after deep caste divisions stopped them from
celebrating a temple festival together, on Friday dalits beat the
drums as per tradition and Thevars led the procession to an ancient

The rare show of caste amity took place in Pillaiyarpuram village, in
caste-sensitive Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, where the
villagers worshipped together at the Vadabathira Kaliamman temple.

Tirunelveli SP Asra Garg led a posse of 600 policemen to provide
security backup in the village. He said the festival was held after
marathon talks were held on Friday to convince the Thevars to allow
the dalits to take part in the ritualistic tradition of drumbeating
after which they were allowed to offer prayers at the temple. The
village dalit leader, S Gurusamy, told TOI: "We will be happy if this
continues." The silk clothes offered by the dalits were used to adorn
the deity.

Though the non-dalits from eight villages enjoyed the rights of
conducting ceremonies in this temple during the annual festival during
March every year, the dalits also participated in it and were the

There was harmony until 2007 when a minor dispute led to a clash and
strains developed between the two groups — a case is pending in this
regard in the Madras HC. The revenue department and police held a
peace meeting and it was decided that the festival would be held on
March 5 and 6.

The non-dalits were allowed to enter the temple and perform the
ceremonies, while the dalits entered the temple and offered prayers.


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