January 12 2017 03:35 AM IST
TIRUVANNAMALAI : Ending the two-month long impasse and breaking with century-old tradition, the caste Hindus of Hariharapakkam village near Vambakkam in Tiruvanamalai district have finally agreed, on Wednesday, to let the Dalits into Thulukanthamman temple.
The decision was taken at Village Gram Sabha meeting held in the presence of Block Development Officer, Tahsildar and Police Inspector. The meeting saw the participation of nearly 400 caste Hindus. The temple had been remaining closed for two months after the caste Hindus opposed the entry of Dalits.
The villagers, in unison, agreed that they would not prevent anyone from entering the temple on the basis of caste, religion or race.
The villagers also agreed they would not indulge in any act that would affect the harmony in the village.
The resolution, unanimously accepted by caste Hindus, was read aloud in the meeting by an elderly person of the village.
The sealed doors of the temple was opened by revenue department officials in the presence of police personnel. The issue started snowballing on July 22 last when a group of Dalit youth from Namandi petitioned Cheyyar Sub Collector R Prabu Shankar, seeking his intervention so that they could participate in Thulukanathamman temple festival held on the third week of Aadi (August).
In the peace talks conducted by the officials concerned, caste Hindus expressed their objection in allowing Dalits into the temple.
Meanwhile, on October 25, 2016, the Cheyyar Sub Collector had opened the temple for Dalits in his bid to end the century-old discrimination. Around 200 Dalits entered and offered prayers in the temple.
But, this stirred up protests from various caste outfits. When the tension started mounting in the village, Tiruvannamalai district administration, on the very next day, had issued an order to close down the temple.
Though caste Hindus submitted repeated pleas to District Collector Prashant M Wadnere to reopen the temple, the administration remained steadfast and said, “either the temple will be for all or will be for none.”
On January 8, a group of caste Hindus broke the temple lock and entered into the temple to offer worship.
Acting on a complaint, police had arrested two caste Hindus aged between 17 to 19 and booked eight persons. Informed sources said, the villagers had decided to end their differences following the arrests.
A Mani, a caste Hindu from Hariharapakkam told Express they wanted to conduct the festival and did not want the temple to remain closed.
“We don’t want our children to be in jail over the temple issue. That’s why we have decided to end the issue,” he added.
However, a college student from Namandi said, even now, they were not allowed to use share autos of caste Hindus to reach Cheyyar – Kancheepuram main road or purchase groceries from their shops.
“We need police security for another three months,” he added.
Meanwhile, R Prabu Shankar, Cheyyar Sub Collector told Express that the temple was owned by HR and CE and it would function in line with the customs. He also thanked the villagers for settling the issue amicably and assured them that police would provide security cover to the temple for some more time.