Arun Stalin and Divya may never have imagined their wedding be conducted with full police protection. However, that is what happened at Chokkanathapuram village near Sendurai on Sunday after caste Hindus in the village locked the gates to the Varadaraja Perumal temple at which the Dalit couple was to get married. The marriage took place two hours later than scheduled as police and revenue officials negotiated with the caste Hindus to get the keys to the locks. They still had to break the last few locks to gain entry.
Ironically, the couple had not wanted to get married at the temple. Their first choice was the Perumal temple at Ariyalur. However, Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments officials administering that temple told them there were too many weddings scheduled for that date. A district HR&CE official told Express that they directed the couple to the Chokkanathapuram temple, administered by the department, as it is close to the groom's native place of Nammangunam.
Based on this, the couple's relatives said they printed invitations and, on November 7, paid the fees and made the booking at the temple.
Yet when they arrived there for the Muhurtham, scheduled for 11am to noon, the couple and their relatives found multiple locks on the gates to the temple, barring their entry. Sources said on Saturday night, caste Hindus in the village, learning that a Dalit couple was to get married there, locked the temple gate.
A relative of the couple, Sasikumar, alerted officials and police. "As there is no temple with a wedding hall in Nammangunam village, from which Arun hails, we decided to arrange the marriage here. We received proper permission from officials for the marriage. However, we found local residents had locked the temple," he said.
Some 100 police personnel were deployed in the village while the couple and temple priest waited outside the temple. Police obtained the keys to three of the locks from locals as Revenue Divisional Officer (in-charge) J Balaji and Sendurai tahsildar Thenmozhi negotiated with the villagers. However, police still had to break the remaining two locks to gain entry to the temple.
The couple finally entered the temple and the priest solemnised the wedding at around 1.30 pm with full police protection.
Members of the caste Hindu community told Express and the Tahsilder that they had locked the temple as marriages of 'outsiders' were not encouraged there. "Only people from our village have been performing various functions, including weddings, for over 30 years at this temple. After this temple came under HR&CE control, people from different places have started getting married here. We do not like that so we locked the gate," they told Express. "We settled the issue and the marriage took place," she said. Ariyalur SP R Srinivasan said action would be taken once the police completed its investigation.