NAMAKKAL Any government function would have a multitude of leaders and cadre of the ruling party swarming the venue. But in contrast, the Valvil Ori festivities held at Semmedu atop the Kolli hills are bereft of political leaders, particularly State ministers and their supporters.
It is quite common for political leaders, including State ministers and members of Parliament and the Legislative Assembly, to stay away from the hills for fear of a myth of losing their office once they participate in this festival, which is held every year to remember one of the seven philanthropists who ruled the hills. It looks like a lasting myth that Ori, the ancient king, may spell trouble to those in power.
“It has become a strong belief over the years that political leaders or bureaucrats would lose their position if they garland the Ori statue or attend the festivities coinciding with Aadi Perukku,” said an official who had served at the hills. Certain incidents that took place in the past seem to have lent credence to it.
DMK chief Karunanidhi went out of power when his government was dismissed in 1976, after he visited the hills and honoured the ancient king. Late DMK veteran Veerapandi Arumugam also lost key portfolio in 1990, a tribesman recalled.
Invitations for the festival would have the names of State ministers and legislators in bold letters, but they seldom attend the event.
This year too, State ministers chose to stay away. The fear of Valvil Ori even made new Collector M Asia Mariam to stay away. On Monday, she chose to keep herself busy with the routine public grievance day programme at the Collectorate.
Officials said the Collector had to attend the grievance day event as it was her first day in office after taking charge on Sunday, a holiday.
“The Collector had to chair the grievance day programme as it was the first one for her in the district after taking charge. She will attend the second day’s programme at the Ori festival,” a top official said when queried.
District Revenue Officer K Palanisamy declared open the festival. The only face of a prominent politician seen at the function was C Chandrasekaran, MLA of Senthamangalam Assembly segment. Since he is a tribesman, be was brave enough to be present. More often, the privilege of garlanding the idol of Valvil Ori goes to low level staff of the Rural Development Department. This time, office assistants — P Venkatachalam and K Kandasamy — and Murugesan, manager of a government-run cottage, garlanded the Ori statue at the break of dawn.Revenue Divisional Officer M Kannan also garlanded the statue.