Members of SC not allowed into temple with Dalit as priest in Madurai
Dalit families residing at A Kokkulam village in Thirumangalam taluk, Madurai district, have been seeking entry into the Pekkaman Karuppasamy temple for a long time to enforce their rights to worship. The temple is maintained by caste Hindus.
A Kannan, a local villager, said the temple is situated on government poramboke land, but it is unfortunate that only 10 of the over 200 families of the Scheduled Caste, have been allowed entry. Interestingly, the temple priest is a Dalit.
Another villager said the SC community wants to enter the temple and worship on the occasion of ‘Aadi Perukku’. The 450-year-old temple, which is not under the control of HR&CE, witnesses a massive gathering on the occasion of ‘Eruthukattu’ once in two decades. To accord recognition to the SC community, only Dalits were made priests (Kaval Deivam) at the temple. However, six other temples near the village are managed by ‘Aaru Pangaligal’, belonging to the Kallar community and the priests are of the same community.
Earlier, P Kamala, who moved the Madurai bench of the High Court, in her PIL, had said that though the temple houses the family deity of the SC community and the Kallar community as well, the SC community was being discriminated against.
According to Section 3 of the Temple Entry Authorization Act, 1947, persons belonging to the excluded classes shall be entitled to enter any Hindu temple. The bench, meanwhile stated, “If the submissions of the counsel appearing for the petitioner are correct, the authorities should consider whether any person could be prevented from entering the private temple situated on public land.” It also directed the Thirumangalam Tahsildar to make every endeavour to resolve it and hoped a direction could be given in 12 weeks.
Madurai Superintendent of Police V Baskaran said a peace committee was formed to resolve the issue.