Around 50 dalits from a village in Thirumangalam entered Pekkaman Karuppasamy temple on Friday evening

MADURAI: Around 50 dalits from a village in Thirumangalam in Madurai entered the local temple for the first time in their lives on Friday evening thanks to an order of the Madurai bench of the Madras high court. The event happened at Anaiyur Kokkulam with police protection and under the watchful eyes of the Thirumangalam tahsildar.

Belonging to the paraiyar community, these dalits had been denied permission by elders of the village to enter the Pekkaman Karuppasamy temple since time immemorial. M Chinnasamy, a member of the VCK, says the fact that the temple is surrounded by land parcels belonging to about twenty dalit families is proof that they worshipped in this temple. But now, as the temple has good revenue, non-dalits, predominantly piramalai kallars who are in majority in the village, did not allow them to offer worship. It is the dalit families living around the temple who perform the rituals in the temple, and the priest is also from their families. Other dalits, except these twenty families, are not allowed into the temple.

The temple’s fame in the region, its revenue and landed assets of about eight acres are said to be the reason why the piramalai kallars are the main members of the organizing committee. One of the dalits approached Madurai high court bench which ordered the district administration to take action. When an inquiry was conducted, the non-dalits denied the charges. The matter was taken up with the HR and CE, which said that the temple was situated on HR and CE land, but belonged to the category of “small temples’’

Chittrayee, 69, who went into the temple around 4.30 pm said, “I do not remember anyone from my family ever having entered this temple.’’ VCK state organising secretary M Ellalan and other members led the temple entry.

This story first appeared on timesofindia.indiatimes.com