Published On: Wed, Aug 10th, 2016

Dalits continue their struggle for right to worship at temple festival – The Hindu

Nearly six years after the Madras High Court ordered the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board in Cuddalore district to allow the car procession of Sri Mariamman Temple through the Pallavarayanatham Dalit colony during the annual festival, Dalits continue to petition the district administration every year seeking their right to worship.

The district administration has been unable to convince the non-Dalits to allow the temple car procession in the Dalit colony following which the authorities have stopped the annual temple car festival since 2010.

Demanding their right to worship, Dalits from Pallavarayanatham Colony on Monday submitted a petition to District Collector A. Gnanasekaran seeking implementation of the High Court order and to ensure that their rights were upheld.

J. Jayaseelan, a resident of the colony, alleged that Dalits were not allowed to take part in some important events such as Mandagapadi (hosting a day’s event) during the 12-day annual festival during the month of Aadi.

“Each day, the temple car is taken in procession. Although the temple car has to be taken to the Dalit colony on the third day of the festival, this was not allowed. Instead, it was kept at the border of Vanniyar habitation and the Dalits are asked to worship from a distance. This practice was in force till 2010,” he said.

No festival for six years

The temple car festival has not been held for the last six years after a peace committee meeting held by the administration failed to arrive at a consensus.

Caste Hindus have refused to deviate from the existing practice and the administration has failed to convince them to abide by the High Court order.

D. Ravikumar, general secretary of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), said even after the High Court had passed an order upholding the rights of Dalits, the district administration was lethargic and had failed to ensure proper implementation of the order.

The administration should allow the temple car to be taken into the colony under tight security, he said.

C. Jothi, Assistant commissioner of HR and CE told The Hindu: “The High Court passed the interim order in 2010. In the first year, the festival was cancelled because of heavy rains. However, subsequently the peole of the village did not conduct the festival. We have no revenue from that temple. If they are ready to organise the festival, we will ensure that the court order is implemented.”

The festival has not been held since 2010 following a dispute over the entry of the car into Dalit colony.

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