Namakkal: For a political leader who remained agnostic and an avowed rationalist on the footsteps of the atheist Periyar, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and late DMK patriarch Muthuvel Karunanidhi is now sought to be deified with a 'temple' in Namakkal district, by a section of the Dalits there.
Christened 'Kalaignar Pagutharivaalayam', a tad more inclusive than 'Anna Arivalayam', the DMK headquarters in Chennai, this shrine to commemorate the memory of Karunanidhi is billed to be unique, as it is being raised by 'Arunthadhiyars', a section of the Dalits in the western belt for whom the late DMK leader had formalized a three per cent sub-quota within the 18 per cent quota for SC/STs in the state.
The shrine is also to commemorate DMK government's steps to make people of any caste as priests of temples, provided they had the training in 'Agamas' and other progressive social reform measures.
The ‘Bhoomi Pooja’ for the shrine was done at Kuchikaadu village near Rasipuram in Namakkal district on Sunday, in a collaborative effort by 500 ‘Arunthadhiyar’ families who live in that village.
“We have decided to build this temple for ‘Kalaignar’ at a cost of `30 lakh,” said one of the representatives of the Dalit community in the village. As many as ten people from the community have pooled in their lands to raise the shrine, he said. “It (the temple) is a symbol of our abiding love and affection for Kalaignar,” he added.
The ‘Arunthathiyar Munnetra Peravai’ president K Chinnasamy told DC, “many in our community today are doctors, engineers and teachers, thanks to the three per cent sub-quota given to Arunthathiyars within the SC quota announced by Kalaignar in 2008. He is like God to us and so we decided to build a temple in his honour now.” The land acquired by ten people in the community measures 10,000 square feet and has been purchased for Rs 25 lakh, he said, adding, funds for the construction of the shrine will be raised by donations from Arunthathiyar community members.
Former chairman of Pattinam town panchayat, P Nallathambi was a special invitee for the ‘Bhoomi Pooja’ function today, two weeks after Karunanidhi’s first death anniversary that fell on August 7 this year. This will be the ‘first temple’ for Kalaignar Karunanidhi in the state, the villagers said.
Bhagyam and Meenakshi of Kuchikaadu village added, “as a mark of our gratitude, we are building the temple for Kalaignar, we build temple for Gods expecting that Almighty will do good for us; for Kalaignar we are doing this for the good he has already done to our community.”
It may be recalled that In 2009, the DMK government enacted the “Tamil Nadu Arunthathiyars (Special reservation of seats in educational institutions including private educational institutions and of appointments or posts in the services under the State within the reservation for the Scheduled Castes) Act,” and it came into force from April that year.
The performance of the ‘Bhoomi Pooja’ for the new temple to a person who did not believe in God, drew scores of puzzled onlookers, but Karunanidhi seems all set to become another ‘deity’ in the pantheon of Dravidian leaders.