PUDUKKOTTAI: A complaint related to the prolonged ostracising of inter-caste couples and disallowing them to contribute to temple festivals at Nallur panchayat of Pudukkottai was taken up by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court for hearing on August 24.
The court was hearing a petition filed by T Velu belonging to MBC, who claimed to have been ostracised for two decades. On a visit to the village, TNIE found that those who belonged to BC and MBC and had got married between the castes have been facing discrimination of varied forms for generations.
Members of the communities expressed reluctance to accept inter-caste weddings, claiming that it affected the tradition of their village. Murugesan (50), a resident who belongs to MBC community, said, "We do not want to incur the wrath of our Goddess Bagavathi Amman. So, we do not allow them to contribute for temple festivals. But, they can offer worship."
Another villager, who belongs to BC community, said, "The issue has been in court for the past 4-5 years. So, we stopped collecting temple festival fund from villagers. Instead, we have created a public fund." However, he did not reveal whether inter-caste couples and their families can contribute to that public fund.
Velu said, "A total of 25 families have been ostracised. Three families still live in the village, while the others have moved to others districts. We want to be part of the temple festival and all the functions in the village like weddings, where we are not being allowed."
Sundari, another person belonging to BC and who has been ostracised, said, "I am 57 years old, and I have been seeing such discrimination from my birth. I was not allowed to take part even in my mother's funeral because I was ostracised. I still live in this village, but no one invites us for any function."
When TNIE contacted Village Administration Officer Augustine, he said, "I have not received such complaints earlier. We are waiting for the court to issue an order. Once we receive an order, we will arrange for a peace meeting with the parties concerned."
Panchayat president M Rammaiah said, "I am from a different community in the BC section and we are not majority here. Times are changing. I have no disagreement in accommodating those who got into inter-caste marriage. However, community leaders should take a call on this issue."