Continuing the agitations across the state, the protestors demanded an apology in front of the Srivilliputhur temple where the poet gave the speech.

Hundreds gather in Chennai to protest Vairamuthus Andal remarksFacebook/Sampath Kumar Ranganatha
news Controversy Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 11:38

Hundreds of people gathered in Chepauk on Monday to mark their protest against Vairamuthu’s speech on Andal.

Earlier this month, the poet spoke at an event organised by the Srivalliputhur temple on Andal, an Alvar saint. In his speech, Vairamuthu had said, "In ‘Indian Movement: Some Aspects of Dissent, Protest and Reform’, written by Subhash Chandra Malik from America’s Indiana University, there is a line: Andal herself is a Devadasi who lived and died in the Sri Rangam Temple."

“While devotees will not accept this, but those who oppose patriarchy and those who are against an unequal society, will ponder this,” he further said. The speech, which was published by Tamil daily Dhinamani, was widely criticised for being insulting to Andal, revered by Hindus as a goddess.

Expressing regret to those he had offended, Vairamuthu said that his intention was to praise Andal and not insult her. He pointed out that he was merely quoting a researcher and that those were not his personal views.

Despite this, hundreds gathered at Chepauk to lodge their protest at the use of the word Devadasi to describe Andal. The protest was organised by Vaishnava priests and LIFCO Dictionaries under the banner of 'Long live Hindu dharma'.

Speaking to TNM, S Ve Sheker, who was at the protest, said, “For the first time, without any ads, without biryani being served, without money being distributed, so many people gathered here today. This is a very good start against the anti-god parties. This is not the first time. Vairamuthu has already spoken about the birth of Rama. Faith doesn’t need research. It is the foolishness of Vairamuthu to think Andal is only for Brahmins. The Srivilliputhur gopuram is the symbol of Tamil Nadu. How dare he comment about this?”

Protestors cut across age groups and many could be seen holding photos of Andal. Priests from several temples and mutts sat on the makeshift stage.

In his speech, Vairamuthu had also spoken at length about Andal's persona. "The devotion for Andal is like a flood; it is the flood that comes from the mountains in search of a valley. It is unstoppable," he said.

He added that Andal, in the 8th century, challenged tradition by singing in praise of Perumal in the temple, at a time when women never left the house. "Andal has always crossed the line that people have drawn for her. A young girl who grew up listening to praises sang for Perumal by Periyalavar, got involved in divine love," he said.