Though police was sucessful in their second initiative in convincing caste Hindus to allow Dalits participate in Muthalamman temple festival and to give equal right over worship in Uthapuram, the social fabric in the village has not changed much and there was no indication that they the two communities could co-exist peacefully.
The situation during the consecration clearly proved that without police presence Dalits cannot enter the temple. “Even when we are taken for worship with police protection, caste Hindus raised their voice against us. If such is the case, it is simply impossible for us to visit the temple during the normal days,” said Alageswari(30), a Dalit woman.
“We have equally rights over the temple. Till 1989, we used to visit the banyan tree near the temple to worship,” said a group of Dalits, adding, “In the 1990’s, they erected a wall near the tree to prevent us from to visiting the temple.” Recalling the behaviour of caste Hindus after their first visit to the temple last year, Pandi (62) said, “The caste Hindus conducted a special pooja in the temple because our visit, according to them, has left the temple desecrated. If such is their attitude, will not they do another pooja after the completion of the present festival because of our participation,” he questioned.