TN: Over 200 Dalits Enter Village Temple in Tiruvannamalai Amid Protests From Dominant Castes

Heavy police protection was deployed to avoid any untoward incident.
Tiruvannamalai Image Courtesy: NDTV

Chennai: Around 200 members of the Scheduled Caste communities entered the Sri Muthaalamman temple in Thenmudiyanur village, Tiruvannamalai district, defying a ‘ban’ imposed by the dominant castes.

They were taken into the 200-year-old temple with the help of the district administration and heavy police protection on January 30,
after seven decades of being ostracised.

Hundreds of members belonging to the privileged communities held a protest in opposition.

The village comprises 1,700 families, of which 500 are dalits, while the rest are caste Hindus.

Notably, this temple comes under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) under the Tamil Nadu government and is built on poramboke (public) land.

The Tamil Nadu government administers an anti-untouchability pledge on January 30, Martyrs Day.


As part of the yearly Pongal celebration, each community is slotted a day to carry out worship rituals in the temple. However, the dalits were not involved in this practice.

Some dalit youths submitted memoranda to the district administration urging intervention. In response, the authorities held peace committee meetings with members of the dominant communities before initiating the temple entry move.

The night before the entry was to take place, 500 police personnel were deployed to avoid any untoward incident. Yet, hundreds of
dominant caste people gathered outside the temple, opposing dalits’ entry to the Muthaalamman temple.

They argued that around 30 years ago, an understanding was arrived at between the Scheduled Castes and dominant communities to worship in different temples, adding that there was “no need to break it off” now.

The district collector and other local body representatives held meetings with them on the spot, stating the temple was a common

Members of around 15 dalit families who came forward to carry out the worship rituals took out a procession. They carried garlands, firewood, and other items for preparing the Pongal dish and entered the temple at 10:30 a.m.

While a handful of dalit families entered the temple with State protection, it remains to be seen whether they will continue to visit
the temple without any opposition from dominant castes.


Meanwhile, a purported video of a DMK union secretary verbally abusing a dalit youth for allegedly entering a temple has gone viral.

The incident occurred in Salem’s Thirumalaigiri, where a dalit youth, on January 19, had entered a temple maintained by the Vanniyar community. This temple also comes under the HR&CE department.

The DMK has suspended union secretary, Manickam for “acting against the party’s policies and bringing a bad image to the party.” But, Manickam alleged that the boy had entered the temple drunk.

Courtesy: Newsclick



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