In early November, the Tamil Nadu BJP president, L Murugan, launched the ‘Vetrivel Yatra’, a tour to duvet the six abodes, Arupadaiveedu, of Lord Murugan thought to be to be thought to be one of the most native Tamil gods. The notion changed into once per thought to be one of basically the most a success templates the BJP has venerable, a yatra in the establish of god. Essentially based totally totally on the senior brass of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, this yatra changed into once supposed to send a message that Tamil Nadu is a spiritual land and that any “insult to Lord Muruga would possibly perhaps well also no longer be tolerated”.
Photos of L Murugan carrying saffron holding the vel, the spear of the deity would possibly perhaps well also yet be thought to be one of basically the most beguiling and contradictory images seen in Tamil politics, which is identified for symbolism. Tamil Nadu, for long, has had a convention of tolerance and secularism and this yatra changed into once to bear a polarising elevate out.
The Vetrivel Yatra ignited the fury of even the AIADMK, the BJP’s ally. By means of its top-notch mouthpiece Nammadhu Amma, the celebration hit out on the BJP announcing that Tamil Nadu is a impart of peace and harmony, and that no one will likely be allowed to behavior disruptive yatras.
Temples in Tamil Nadu had been locations of sizable significance for no longer no longer as much as the past 15 centuries. They’ve no longer finest been locations of affection, but bear held significance in the social, financial and political traits of their communities. Other folks in Tamil Nadu bear gathered at temples no longer ethical to present their prayers, but to additionally uncover as a neighborhood and participate in rituals reaffirming social unity.
Essentially based totally totally on effectively-known scholar Arjun Appadurai, the Tamil temple has been thought to be a stage, ie a ‘symbolic save’ the save social statuses are publicly displayed and customarily challenged. That the Tamil temple is a impart to cement identity can even be seen in the popping-up of Murugan temples in diverse facets of the sphere, from Montreal to Mauritius to Singapore to the border town of Moreh in Manipur. There are Murugan temples in five continents now, which as a result, has allowed for a unity all the design in which thru the Tamil diaspora in these continents.
Indeed, revival of Tamil tradition additionally coincided with the renovation and popularisation of Murugan temples all the design in which thru the impart. Recognising this, M Karunanidhi, the slack five-time chief minister and president of the DMK asserted that Murugan changed into once the god of DMK, in the temple town of Palani in 1971. Equally, Tamil identity has been asserted thru the Mariamman temple, the save diverse variations of the “Amman” manifestations of Kali/Durga can even be chanced on all the design in which thru the impart. The faith in Murugan and Amman is so sturdy in Tamil Nadu, that for centuries, folk’s social, political and economical lives bear revolved spherical the temple and their deities.
The production of a collective identity of the “Tamil” has for long been cemented by territory, namely the six abodes, on tale of a community of temples can even be mapped, bordered and shown whereas a collective identity can no longer.
Herein lie the misgivings of Hindutva in Tamil Nadu, on tale of it does no longer recognise the collective identity that the Tamil temple has given to the folk of this impart for centuries.
The French sociologist, Pierre-Yves Troulliet, makes a main point the save he argues that Tamil temples had been central to triggering native style and settlement explain. Indeed, no south Indian town has been founded at random, but repeatedly the save a delusion recounts that the divine manifested itself there (most regularly a buried statue of a linga or a goddess). Madurai, Tiruvanamalai, Tiruchengodu, Palani are very ideal examples. Even in the sprawling metropolis of Chennai, the areas of Mylapore and Triplicane originated with the Kapaleeshwar and Parthasarthy temple as its centre. The legend that Tamil Hindus are in hazard seems to bear dissonance on tale of an even portion of the Tamil identity is to be spiritual.
One other strategy of the BJP has been to listing the DMK as an anti-Hindu celebration, attacking the DMK’s long legacy of atheism and rationalism. Whereas atheism has long been an ideology of the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), members of the DMK bear adopted the Tamil tradition of being deep believers in Murugan and Amman. For decades, native celebration leaders bear contributed to their native temple funds and organised Annadhanams, the sacred tradition of offering food to gigantic groups of folk all the design in which thru the temple. When I visited the homes of definite celebration leaders, I noticed gigantic pooja rooms with sizable portraits of Murugan and changed into once even once asked to help for over an hour as a local DMK leader done his morning pooja.
The DMK minority wings secretary the MLA of Gingee, G Masthan even contributed Rs 11,000 in direction of the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. He additionally claimed that he has attended over 320 temple gala’s in the ideal five years. The DMK’s manifesto for the upcoming election has dispensed Rs 1,000 crore for the renovation and consecration of Hindu temples and has promised to enable folk of all castes to become priests. All these acts are portion of the shared and lived realities of those native communities, since the DMK is a cadre-based celebration with a deep connection to ground realities.
The DMK for long has unequivocally said that it’s no longer against any religion or temple, but against the postulate of Brahminism, the save Brahmins are favorable in station by beginning and others are irascible. This rationalism and secularism has allowed for the Tamil identities and Hinduism to be interpreted and re-interpreted. If Muruga and Amman had been no longer area to interpretation and thus to reinterpretation, they wouldn’t continue to recordsdata the Tamil folk over long centuries, one thing which Lord Ram and Hindutva catch no longer appear to enable.
For Tamil Nadu, this rationalism and secularism is rarely any longer a malicious program but a characteristic for continuity of its identity.
The author is an alumnus of the Harvard Graduate College of Education and an honest researcher working on the intersection of caste, politics and schooling. Views expressed are private