Chennai

Thirumavalavan calls for songs on Dalit-Buddhist tradition

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi founder Thol. Thirumavalavan has made a public call inviting those who identify with the party to write and compose songs, reflecting the party’s principles and ideology, which would be played during the public meetings before June 30.

Making the call with the slogan ‘ Naangal Hindukkal Alla, Poorva Bouthargal (We are not Hindus, but originally Buddhists), Mr. Thirumavalavan said, “We need 2 songs that could be played at the beginning and at the end of party’s public meetings, seminars and other events. The songs will be selected by a committee headed by Poet Arivumathi. The songs will have to be sent in before June 30.”

While VCK’s discourse has often referenced Buddhism, Mr. Thirumavalavan’s declaration that ‘we are not Hindus but Buddhists’ appears to follow CPI (M)’s recent decision to take active part in cultural and religious festivals in Tamil Nadu to counter attempts by Hindutva groups to polarise society.

Speaking about the recent call made by Mr. Thirumavalavan, VCK general secretary and floor leader in the State Assembly, Sinthanai Selvan, said, “This being our leader’s 60th year – we want to underline and highlight this aspect of Dalit history, culture and tradition. We want to create songs in Tamil and in other languages. So far, we have been using only movie songs in our public meetings,” he said.

Mr. Selvan said that the move has been designed as a counter to claims made by the Hindutva groups when it comes to religion and culture.  

“Hindutva groups are excluding minorities, Dalits and others and alienating them. We don’t want to identify with the Hindutva culture, but identify with the Indian culture of which Buddhism is a part. Dalits are being used and mobilised as Hindus against minorities. But, we are not being given any privileges within the Hindu tradition. So, we wanted to underline that Dalit history has a deep connection with traditions that speak about equality.”

Writer Stalin Rajangam, who is the author of Ayothithasar Vazhum Boutham and has written about the Buddhist roots of Dalit community, said that the secular political parties seem to wrongly believe that the majoritarianism of the BJP and Hindutva forces can be defeated by stopping them politically in the State. 

“While BJP is using cultural, religious beliefs and traditions that are found in people for political gain, the secular parties do not really care for it. They ignore it. Dravidian parties don’t seem to have this understanding. The CPI(M) has understood this,” said Mr. Stalin Rajangam.

Mr. Rajangam said: “Though they (VCK) may not seriously pursue it (Buddhist identity), it opens up the space for them to stake a claim for Dalits that they are a part of an Indian tradition that is opposed to India’s caste tradition.” It is notable that B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with hundreds of thousands of his supporters in October 1956.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 1:06:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/thirumavalavan-calls-for-songs-on-dalit-buddhist-tradition/article65427200.ece