Wednesday, October 6, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Visit to Porayar inspired Gandhi to take up Dalit cause

Visit to Porayar inspired Gandhi to take up Dalit cause

Nagapattinam (TN), Oct 6 (PTI) Mahatma Gandhi''s sojourn in a remote
town in Tamil Nadu in 1915 to see the condition of impoverished Dalits
there might have influenced him to dedicate his life for their
upliftment, a noted historian has said.
Gandhi was invited by his businessman friend in South Africa, R B
Chetty to visit his native town, Porayar to see the appalling
conditions of Dalits, noted historian Maria Lazar said.
His trip to the town was also influenced by the death of a teenaged
girl in prison after she had joined his satyagraha movement against
racial discrimination, the Professor claimed.
Valliamma, daughter of an immigrant labourer from Thillaiyadi village
near Porayar passed away in jail on her 16th birthday.
Gandhi stayed at Chetty''s house and also visited the girl''s
ancestral home as well as the residence of a migrant labourer who lost
his life at Durban, the historian said.
He was shocked by the extreme poverty of Dalits and agricultural
labourers in and around the area which left a deep impact on his mind,
Lazar added.
A book on the ''South Indian visits of Gandhiji'' brought out by
Sarvodaya Sangam said he spent his time at Chetty''s home reflecting
on the issue.
"It was here that Gandhi decided to dedicate his life to the
upliftment of Harijans," Lazar noted.
The house now has a tablet bearing the inscription ''Gandhi Thankiya
Illam'' (house where Gandhi stayed).
The house where Gandhi stayed at Porayar has now become a famous
tourist attraction.

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