METRO PLUS

When the postman knocked

ARTS HERITAGE buff V. Sriram writes that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Bangalore Nagaratnammal (Miscellany, November 4), who was founder secretary of the Madras Devadasi Association. Also called the Deputation of the Devadasis of the Madras Presidency, it was "hastily put together when Dr. Muttulakshmi Reddy began her tirade against the Nautch girls during the height of the Anti-Nautch Bill and its accompanying battles in 1927-29".

Other members included Veena Dhanammal, her daughters Rajalakshmi and Lakshmiratnam, Salem Meenakshi, Salem Thayi, Salem Lakshmi and Mylapore Gowri (who was attached to the Kapaleeswarar Temple). Bangalore Nagarathanammal and Veena Dhanammal, in particular, could not reconcile themselves to Dr. Muttulakshmi's crusade, being that she was from their community.

Opposing the views of Dr. Muttulakshmi, the Association members expressed their own in handbills, "elegantly worded, reflecting their cultural status", which they distributed in front of the Assembly in Fort St. George. But all their efforts came to naught, though it was 1948 before the bill became law, a 20-year period elapsing during which the devadasis lived in "a state of suspense". The Association, however, lacked sustainability and faded into oblivion by the early 1930s.

Reader Sriram also points out that Bangalore Nagarathanammal donated her wealth to the Tyagaraja Samadhi in Tiruvaiyaru and not the Tiruvarur temple, as I had stated. Obviously my hearing is not what it used to be.

I am also informed by another reader that K.S. Ranganath (Miscellany, November 18) has, for some years now, made Madras his base.

S. MUTHIAH