Come September, and it is a tough time for VHP, Hindu Munnani, BJP, Indu Makkal Katchi and other Sangh Parivar outfits in Tamil Nadu against the ban or the restrictions right from installation, celebration, procession route and immersion of Vinayagar Idols put forth by the successive Dravidian governments pre-pandemic of current COVID-19 days. The DMK led government has banned the Vinayaga Chaturthi festival in the wake of COVID-19. VHP, Hindu Munnani, BJP and other right-wing organisations across Tamil Nadu have been up in arms for the past week.
Chief Minister MK Stalin led the DMK government told the Madras High Court on September 6 that the Union Home Minister had written to the Chief Secretaries of all states and union territories on August 29 and advised them to take suitable steps to avoid large gatherings during the festive season. It also said that in tune with the above advisory, the TN government has banned the installation of idols in public places during the Vinayaga Chaturthi celebrations this year.
The state government has imposed a ban on processions and mass immersion of idols in water bodies too. However, it has advised people to celebrate the festival in their houses. As far as Chennai is concerned, the government said a total ban would be in place against the immersion of idols in the beach, particularly in the stretch between Santhome and Napier Bridge. "The permission is only for individuals. Organisations are totally banned to carry out this action. Permission is granted for individuals to leave the idols which were worshipped in their homes, in front of the temples or in and around temples. The HR and CE dept. would take necessary action to remove the idols later," the GO read. The GO was produced in the High Court during the hearing of a PIL filed by K. Gopinath of Hindu Munnetra Kazhagam. He had sought direction to the TN government to lay down a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Last year, the High Court had allowed the installation and immersion with some conditions.
The Hindu Munnani has announced that it would install one lakh idols at the residences and celebrate the Vinayaka Chaturthi festival. Hindu Munnani Tamil Nadu state president Kadeswara C Subramaniam has said that the organisation would go ahead with the Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations on September 10. He also demanded that the DMK government conduct talks with the Hindu Munnani leaders immediately. Kadeswara C Subramaniam said, "The DMK government of Tamil Nadu is showing its true colours and is against the Hindu interests. The Hindu Munnani held a hunger protest against the Draconian policies unleashed by the DMK government against Hindu festivals, and we will strongly oppose this across Tamil Nadu on 6th." He pointed out that there were no restrictions to celebrate Bakrid recently by erecting large pandals on the roadside. He claimed that even the 10-day Church festival was allowed in Tuticorin recently by declaring a local holiday. During Ramzan, a large gathering was allowed. However, when it comes to Hindu festivals, particularly during last month, being Holy Aadi month, the government was taking the issue of spreading the infection, he alleged.
BJP Tamil Nadu state president K. Annamalai has questioned the wisdom of the government banning Vinayaga Chaturthi celebrations while allowing TASMAC liquor shops to function unabated. He said the party would conduct protests across the state against the DMK government's decision to ban installing idols at waysides.
Annamalai accused the DMK government of trying to win the support of people of other religions in Tamil Nadu by not respecting the First God of Hindus and continuously insulting Vinayaga devotees. He said the government has been indulging in high police handedness by arresting poor Vinayagar idol makers, seizing and sealing their workplaces. He has appealed to the people to support their party's plans of celebrating Vinayagar Chaturthi, where one lakh party cadres will keep the idol on their will keep idols on their door stets and celebrate the festival. Annamalai has questioned, "When neighbouring states like Puducherry, Karnataka and Maharashtra can allow Vinayaka Chaturthi festival with restrictions, why deny permission in Tamil Nadu alone? Was the decision meant to garner the support of people of other religions and hurt the sentiments of followers of the Hindu religion? The government is allowing Tasmac to function. It can impose restrictions, but issuing a blanket ban is unacceptable. We still have time. We are thinking whether we should approach the CM with our demand. The government should have left it to the organisers to conduct events following safety guidelines, including social distancing." he said.
On September 7, replying to BJP legislative party leader Nainar Nagendran's request to allow the festival in the state, Chief Minister M. K. Stalin said in the Assembly that the Union Home Ministry had advised state governments to take suitable measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including preventing large gatherings, till September 30. The state government has asked all the temples to be closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to avoid crowding for the past month.
HR & CE Minister PK Sekar Babu asked Annamalai not to do politics in the name of God. "Noting that Lord Ganesh would also fulfil the wishes of devotees if pujas are performed at home," said the minister. He said the government decided not to permit immersion processions this year because of the pandemic. He also warned of strict action against violators. But VHP, Hindu Munnani, Indu Makkal Katchi, BJP, and others have decided to defy the government order in celebrating the festival with usual pomp.
The state government has been targeting Hindus and Temple rituals by appointing non-brahmin people in the temple (agama following) against SC directions, forcing poojas in Tamil, ban on Vinayagar festival, closing temples on weekends, denying permission to conduct annual festivals in Hindu temples. The decision of melting the gold bars into tiny bits of jewellery offered by devotees at temples run by the HR and CE department and deposit them in banks to raise funds for development projects and welfare schemes at the temples is an unwelcome move. It has also decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Periyar in September as "Social Justice Day" and the announcement of the installation of 135 foot tallest statue in the State Periyar at Siruganur on the Tiruchi – Chennai National High way. It is an irony that a statue for an iconoclast and atheist.
"In the TN soil, social reformists like Ramanujar and Vallalar had taught us what social justice in real terms. Poet Bharathi and Muthuramalinga Thevar had worked hard to do away with the caste discriminations. It is a million dollar question what Periyar, who had wedded to the foreign ideology, had taught us? How could we accept him as a social reformer? The false premises built around him in showing him in high pedestal with so many glorifications, titles are falling apart like a plaster." says Advocate A Aswathaman. The DK, DMK, VCK and other allies brand Vinayagar as a "north Indian God and not of Tamil God." They know the festival would unite Hindus like what had happened during British rule. Tilak appealed to the people to celebrate the festival for unity. It is learnt that these measures are being taken at the behest of Abrahamic forces that are behind at every decision-making level.