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This Periyar Group Will Be Celebrating Ravan Leela In Chennai

TPDK claims Ravan as a Dravidian icon.

11/10/2016 3:53 PM IST | Updated 11/10/2016 6:13 PM IST
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Hindustan Times via Getty Images
An effigy of Ravana in Indore. (Photo by Shankar Mourya/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A fringe Dravidian group in Chennai is going to celebrate Ravan Leela this year, opposing the tradition of Ram Leela, which is widely celebrated in North India every year, The News Minute reported.

Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (TPDK) has decided to burn effigies of Ram, Sita and Lakshman as its answer to what it perceives as the anti-Dravidian practice of burning one of Ravan. Tha Kumaron, Chennai District Secretary of the group, has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the practice of Ram Leela be stopped in Delhi.

Since Ravan and his brothers were Dravidian, Kumaron argues, burning the effigy of the King of Lanka amounts to offending the sensibilities of the Dravidian people. For him, it doesn't matter if Ram Leela is celebrated in Tamil Nadu or not, it's the principle that counts.

Kumaron's arguments are not new though. In 1998, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), currently the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, co-opted Ravan as one of its icons and took similar umbrage at the celebration of Ram Leela. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) countered it with the claim that Ravan was not a Dravidian but a fallen Brahmin.

Nearly two decades on, the epic battle of historical ownership over Ravan is yet to be concluded. TPDK's programme is scheduled to be held at the Sanskrit School on Wednesday evening.

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