As announced, about 40 members of the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam landed at the Sanskrit College at Mylapore in Chennai on Wednesday to burn effigies of Ram, Sita and Lakshmanan. This was the Periyarist group’s answer to Ram Leela – Ravanan Leela.
Amidst tight security, and all efforts of the police to stall the event, the members of the fringe group did manage to burn a few effigies, including that of Lord Ram.
Kumaran, a member of the TDPK said, “As per our plan we broke the police chain around us and burned the effigy. 11 persons who were involved in burning effigies have been remanded by police.”
Condemning Ramayana’s ‘racist portrayal’ of ‘Dravidians as demons’, the TPDK said that the Ravanan Leela was their way of protesting against Hindu cultural hegemony.
“It does not matter that ‘Ram Leela’ is not celebrated in Tamil Nadu. In Delhi, effigies of Ravanan and his two brothers are burnt, we believe that they are Dravidians and burning their effigies is mocking us. So to stop that, we have decided to celebrate ‘Ravana Leela’ in which we will be burning the effigies of Ram, Sita and Lakshman,” S Kumaran, another TDPL leader had told TNM earlier.
He also added that they had written a letter to Prime Minister asking him to stop Ram Leela in Delhi but they did not get any response from his office.
MT Saju writes that in the 1970s too, Periyarists conducted Ravanan Leelas. He reminds us that after Periyar died, his wife Maniyammai burnt the effigy of Ram at Periyar Thidal in 1974. But since then, it has not been a popular event.