Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu:
In a historic move, over 300 people from a community of Scheduled Castes in Tamil Nadu who were denied entry into a temple for several decades were today taken into the temple for worship by the district administration in the Tiruvannamalai district. The issue came to light during a parent-teacher conference, and the historic step became possible following a series of meetings with the dominant communities in the area. However, there’s heavy police deployment outside the temple to avert any untoward incident, as the situation is tense because of fierce opposition by 12 dominant groups in the village.
Around 500 Scheduled Caste families live in the Thenmudiyanur village, and the community was denied entry to the 200-year-old temple for over 80 years. The dominant communities were reluctant, saying the communities agreed to pray at different temples decades ago, and no change in that so-called tradition is required now.
There’s heavy police deployment outside the temple as more than 750 people from the dominant communities are protesting the move, and demanding the sealing of the temple.
The District Collector and the Superintendent of Police led a series of peace committee meetings to persuade the dominant communities to allow temple entry for SCs.
This is part of the Pongal celebrations and if everything goes according to what the police have planned, people from the Scheduled Castes will be taken inside the temple and allowed to prepare Pongal and perform prayers and rituals.
Around 15 to 20 families from the SC communities have come forward to go into the temple and worship, and the police hope this could be a fresh beginning. Others also would come in later, and this could break the ‘communal divide’, as many call it.
This will be the second such incident recently in the state. In the Pudukkottai district, too, the District Collector had led a group of delegates who were denied entry into a temple. She ensured entry for them after reports of excreta being mixed in the drinking water tank that supplied water for a community of Scheduled Castes.