A group of Dravidian outfits led by the Dravidar Kazhagam staged a demonstration in the city on Thursday, demanding the implementation of a State government legislation that paves the way for people of all castes to officiate as priests in Hindu temples.
Speakers at the demonstration focused on the eradication of the caste system and said opening the sanctum sanctorums of temples to people of all castes would be a crucial step in breaking the barriers of the system.
The demonstrations were led by Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani. Leaders from the DMK, VCK and other parties took part.
VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan and Dravida Iyakka Tamilar Peravai leader Suba Veerapandian participated, besides DMK leaders such as organising secretary TKS Elangovan, J Anbazhagan, M Subramanian and PK Sekar Babu.
They demanded that the government take immediate steps to operationalise the policy, by first appointing the 206 persons from non-Brahmin castes who had been trained in the rites and rituals to officiate as priests in temples. The matter is sub-judice, and the 206 men have been agitating for lack of employment.
Even as he spoke out against the caste barriers that prevented people of all castes from officiating as priests, Veeramani insisted that the demonstrations were not an attempt by atheist elements to dilute the culture of the land. “The opposition to this idea is purely because they are afraid that we atheists will get in and dilute and ruin the traditions. We assure you, we have no intentions of becoming priests. This is only aimed at ensuring equality, equity and an eventual end to the caste system,” said Veeramani.
Elangovan, on the other hand, clarified that the demonstration was not only about the question of employment. “We are not trying to say ‘give these 206 men livelihood’. This is about a larger social justice initiative,” he added.
Thirumavalavan questioned why certain sections of society were used for the construction of temples, but were barred from entering them or officiating in them. The speakers said they would continue their agitation till the end had been achieved.