TIRUVANNAMALAI: After eight decades, Dalits of Thenmudiyanur village in Thandrampattu taluk here entered the Sri Muthumaariamman temple for the first time. Men, women and children took out a procession to the temple in the presence of collector B Murugesh, DIG (Vellore range) M S Muthusamy, SP K Karthikeyan and other officials. Talks, which ended amicably, were held between officials and villagers prior to the procession.
The temple, which is said to be over 80-years-old, has been worshipped by caste Hindus since its inception. “All these years, we were denied entry. We were branded untouchables. If we wanted to worship the deity, our place was outside the temple,” said C Murugan, a resident, adding, “Only we know how painful it is to be denied on the basis of caste.” The village, with a population of 7,000 people, has around 2,500 people from the SC community.
“We had filed numerous petitions seeking government intervention. At a peace committee meeting chaired by Tiruvannamalai revenue divisional officer Mandhagini on January 25 (Wednesday) , officials decided to allow us entry and worship the deity,” said Murugan. Pongal was cooked and offered by the Dalits to the deity. “We are happy that our prayers to get our rights have been answered,” another villager said.
To prevent any untoward incidents, over 500 police personnel were deployed in the village, apart from setting up barricades at crucial junctions.
“The place of worship is common to all. All of us have the right to enter the temple and worship the deity. This temple belongs to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department and people of any community have the right to worship here,” the collector said.
He told the villagers to cooperate with one another, and warned of severe action against those who disrupt harmony. “If this issue is raked up again, the temple run by HR&CE will be sealed,” he told the villagers. (AIR NEWS)