Want to eradicate untouchability at sanctum sanctorums, fight caste bias: Ranganathan
V Ranganathan, who spearheaded the movement for appointing non-Brahmin priests in temples for nearly a decade, has now decided not to become an archaka (priest) himself. His new mission, he says, is aimed at eradicating untouchability practised at the sanctum sanctorums and to continue his fight against caste discrimination, following in the footsteps of Periyar and Ambedkar.
“I wanted to end the discrimination inside the temples. I agree with Periyar, Kalaignar, and Ambedkar’s fight against caste discrimination. But I believe in the existence of God,” the 33-year-old told DT Next.
Ranganathan who hails from the temple town of Tiruvannamalai was working in the automobile manufacturing sector after studying at the Industrial Training Institute. “I am a staunch believer and used to visit Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai daily. Hence I joined the archakas training course offered by the government. But it was my experience during the course that made me realise the untouchability practised at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple,” he said. Recalling incidents of attacks on their vathiayar (teacher) and verbal abuse by the temple priests, he said the same priests who were friendly with him earlier started treating him badly. “I still get threatening calls from Brahmin priests. I had even filed police complaints,” he said. Ranganathan, also head of the Government Trained Archakas Association, said that the SC order in 2015 and subsequent inaction of the AIADMK government was a big letdown. “Now after a decade, the government has appointed all caste-trained archakas in HR&CE temples. It is an important milestone in the fight against untouchability in the temples. But I will continue the fight until non-Brahmins are appointed in all major temples in the State,” he said.
Only woman othuvaar
Twenty-eight-year-old Suhanjana from Selayur would dream about singing hymns before the deity during her temple visits. In fact, she had learnt Thevaram and Thiruvasagam recitals eight years ago as well. Her long wait finally ended on Saturday when Chief minister MK Stalin appointed her as one of the Othuvaars in an HR and CE temple. She was the only woman othuvaar (person who chants hymns before the deity during pooja) appointed. More on P6