Pongal fest: Peace meeting between Dalits, caste Hindus to be held in Tiruvannamalai

While Dalits want to have the festival in the temple, caste Hindus have decided to stay away from the festival.
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The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department of the Tamil Nadu government will hold a series of peace meetings with dominant caste Hindus and Dalits in Tiruvannamalai district this week.

This is for the smooth conduct of annual post-Pongal festivals in the Thenmudiyanur village in Thandrampattu block of Tiruvannamalai district. According to the customs and traditions followed by residents in the village, the festival will be held for 13 days. Each community in the village will conduct rituals and 'pujas' as per their tradition at the Muthalamman Temple.

It has, however, been reported that caste Hindus are not willing to conduct the rituals in the temple this year and have sought permission from HR&CE officials to conduct rituals on a private individual land where an idol has been placed a few days ago.

HR&CE (Tiruvannamalai) officials told IANS that petitions have been submitted by the members of both Dalit communities and dominant caste Hindus on the festival to the department last week. While Dalits want to have the festival in the temple, caste Hindus have decided to stay away from the festival. This has reached a situation wherein only Dalits will be performing the ritual on the specified day given by the HR&CE.

HR&CE officials said that festivals cannot be done for a single day by one community alone and that a mid-path will be found to resolve the issue.

On January 30, 2023, Dalits had entered the temple for the first time in over 70 years in the presence of district Collector and other revenue officials. After this the temple was closed until September 2023 when Dalits sought the reopening of the temple to conduct daily pujas. Since then, the temple has remained open on all days for worship.

However, caste Hindus have not visited the temple since its reopening last September and they mobilised funds from the public, especially from caste Hindus in the village, and made a bronze idol for the consecration on a private individual land.

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