R Kannan, a biographer of Dravidian leaders and former CMs Annadurai and MGR, points out that MK Stalin has only reiterated the known stance of the DMK on religious ceremonies.

Stalins 2-yr-old speech on Hindu marriages resurfaces sparks debate on social mediaFacebook
news Controversy Sunday, February 03, 2019 - 19:15

Close to two years after DMK President MK Stalin criticised Vedic ceremonies conducted in Hindu marriages, a video of his speech has sparked outrage on social media. Stalin, who had attended a marriage conducted as per the Dravidian self-respect movement, addresses the guests at the venue after the ceremony and terms the mantras chanted in a traditional Hindu wedding 'disgusting'. 

In the video that is abruptly cut at one minute and forty seconds, the DMK chief says, "You know how a Vaideeha marriage happens. The bride and groom will not be sitting on chairs when the marriage is being conducted. They will be made to sit on the ground and next to them the priest or Iyer will be seated and he will conduct the marriage. And how will he do it? He stokes a fire between the couple, there will be smoke coming from that pyre. The smoke will assault the eyes of the couple and then they will cry a little. Not just their eyes, the guests will also tear up. It is a sad situation. Then the priest will say some mantras. He will call kinnarar, Dhevars and 330 million Dhevars. He will call ishta avathars and some extra avathars to conduct the wedding. What is he saying? The couple won't know. The people who have come won't know and maybe if you take him aside, he will also say he doesn't know.  But if you think about the inner meaning - our whole body will shake. The mantras will be so disgusting."

On February 2, two years after he made the speech, this video began doing the rounds on social media and drew sharp criticism for its content.

However, R Kannan, the biographer of the Dravidian leaders Annadurai and MG Ramachandran, points out that the DMK's rhetoric has been the same since the time of Periyar.

"Mr Stalin has reiterated what the Dravidian movement had always said that the wedding couple nor those who had come to bless the couple understand these mantras, which are in Sanskrit," says Kannan. "Besides, the intermediary - a priest, that too a Brahmin, who believed in the inequality of birth and that he was the highest in the caste order, was required to sanctify it - was looked upon as a lack of self-respect;  hence the self-respect marriages eschewing the rituals introduced by Brahmins was introduced by EV Ramasamy Periyar, the founder of the self-respect movement. Periyar and his rationalist followers have always pointed to the inequitable, distasteful and controversial messages contained in some of the Hindu texts and the demeaning nature of some of the mantras and myths. Mr Stalin could have explained in a line for the benefit of the younger generation why the mantras or the message contained are "shameful","he adds.

DMK spokesperson A Saravanan, meanwhile tells TNM that the circulation of the video is merely an act of 'right-wing bigotry' ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

"They are clearly trying to manufacture outrage. People who call themselves neutral are lending their voice to right-wing bigotry," says Saravanan. "Our stand on these ceremonies have been the same for 100 years."