Nearly 300 Dalits offered prayers on the occasion of ‘Thirukarthigai' Day

Amid heavy police security, the Dalits in East Rajapalayam in the Gengavalli block in Salem district successfully re-entered the ancient Sri Chidambareshwarar temple in the village on Sunday, from which they were barred. Dressed up in their best, 300 Dalits including women and children, carrying garlands and fruits, offered prayers inside the HR and CE-controlled temple on the ‘Thirukarthigai' Day. “We are happy,” said a Dalit after offering the prayers.

The Dalits entered the temple on October 3 “for the first time in their lives,” according to a 65- year old Dalit labourer.

‘Diktat'

But it was said that the caste Hindus, once again, passed a ‘diktat' barring them from entering the temple, thus forcing them to seek government intervention.

Tense situation

Since Saturday night, the village has remained tense. Heavy police pickets were posted to prevent any untoward incident.

Revenue officials including Attur RDO V Sirajunnisa and policemen from the nearby Veeraganur station rushed to the spot and held peace talks.

Later, senior police officials, led by SP Y. John Nicholson, arrived at the village. The talks went on near the temple for nearly three hours. The SP told the caste Hindus that none had the right to prevent anyone from worshipping at the temple. Finally they relented and withdrew from the temple areas.

Police asked the Dalits to enter the temple peacefully and not to burst crackers. About 4 pm, the Dalits entered the temple and offered poojas. The SP also told the caste Hindus and Dalits to maintain peace.