Ostracised villagers want to be back in the mainstream

At least 50 persons ostracised, many years ago, by their families and village elders for marrying outside their caste, live outside their village at Echampatti near Thirupanjili in Tiruchi district. Some have submitted a representation to the Collector seeking official intervention to return.

Life has not been easy for the villagers, most of them from intermediate caste, hailing from Echampatti who chose to marry outside their caste.

P. Soundararajan, now a 65-year-old man, was thrown out of his village for marrying Kamalam, a resident of Thirupanjili, the nearby village in 1977. “My father asked me to leave and never return. With my son, who was three years at the time, we took refuge in Thirupanjili,” he said. The son is now 45 years old and has three children. The son and his family too, are not allowed to enter the village. ‘My son's wedding was held without the participation of my siblings or my parents. It is a painful way to live,’ he said.

Mr. Soundararajan was not allowed to conduct the last rites of his mother. He fought with the village elders and, in the end, had to conduct the rituals alone. ‘We had to bring the priests, parai artistes and everyone else from nearby villages and paid them twice the money,’ he said. His siblings, uncles and other relatives too, do not keep in touch.

Like him, 50 others have been expelled from the village. While many live on the outskirts of the village, some have moved away to other districts in search of a better living. Their main contention is that they are not allowed to offer prayers at the temple in the village. ‘If the village elders allow us to enter the temple, soon others will allow us to enter their houses,’ Kamalam said.

Along with Soundararajan, four other men submitted a petition to the Collector seeking his intervention in the matter and allowing their inclusion in the annual temple festival and other social events in August.

Following this, an enquiry was ordered and the panchayat president and other elders were warned. ‘The panchayat leaders said that they would include them in the temple festival and the festival was held last week with no complaints. We have warned the panchayat president that if any complaint is filed, the consequences would be severe,’ Manachanallur Tahsildar, Shaktivel Murugan said.

These villagers, however, do not believe it. ‘They promised that they would include us so that the temple festival could be conducted smoothly. Now things have gone back to the way they were,’ Mr. Soundararajan alleged. They, however, took part in the festival for the first time in 45 years, and that has given them some solace. ‘We need to wait and watch. My brother ignored me at the festival too. We hope that the step we took will bring change at least for our grandchildren,’ he added.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 5:38:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/villagers/article36656331.ece

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