One may call it ‘reverse Sanskritization’. As many as 207 members comprising 54 families of the ‘Paliyar’ hill tribe community tucked away in Tamil Nadu’s famous Kodaikanal hill-station tract, about 450 km south of Chennai, who are Christians, have sought to come back to the Hindu-fold to help regain the reservation and other benefits that Scheduled Tribes (ST) are entitled to.
At a simple function organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at their village Thamarai Kulam, about 20 km from Kodaikanal town on Sunday, the heads of each of the 54 families gave written petitions to the VHP’s International Secretary S Vedantam, official sources in Dindigul district told HT over the phone on Monday.
The ‘Paliyar Christians’- as they are called now enjoy only Backward Class status benefits, which was not found to be their advantage as hill tribes, the sources said. Hence, they sought the VHP’s mediation to help them be re-notified as ‘Hindu Paliyar’ that will entitle them to ST benefits, official sources said.
“You can’t strictly call it re-conversion yet, as each of the families wishing to come back to the Hinduism-fold gave a petition to Vedantam to that effect,” official sources said. The VHP leader received the petitions and promised to do the needful even as all the tribal families were treated to a sumptuous lunch, sources said.
The re-conversion ceremony has to be separately performed either by the ‘Arya Samaj’ or the VHP itself could do it, but yesterday’s function was at best only a prelude for the ‘Paliyars’ to be re-notified as ‘Hindu Paliyars’, the sources explained.
However, VHP sources in Chennai, when contacted told HT that yesterday’s function near Kodaikanal was itself a “re-conversion ceremony”, called “Thaai Matham Thirumbuthal’ in Tamil (return to one’s Mother religion literally).
Dindigul District Collector R Kirloshkumar, who is also the District Magistrate, when reached by HT late this evening said, “It was a private function near Kodaikanal and they are not required to take any permission for it.”