Separate ration for Dalits of Kurayur

via published on December 12, 2011

Report by Sruthisagar Yamunan
Express News Service

MADURAI: “The only difference between what happened in Uthapuram and our village is that there is no wall here. All other discrimination is present,” said a pensive Mariappan, pointing to the road in the village that divides the Dalit colony from that of the Caste Hindu people.

From the archaic two-tumbler system and a separate ration shop, to the lack of access to the village temple, the Dalits of Kurayur in Thirumangalam taluk near here have been facing caste discrimination for years.

However, while the physical wall in Uthapuram had received much attention from the district administration, much of what is happening in this outwardly quaint village has gone unnoticed.

Despite being a reserved constituency in the last two panchayat elections, Dalits in the village say that they have not been able to bring in change. The discrimination starts from the food they eat, with the village having separate ration shops for the two castes.

“We have to get the rice from the one on our side of the village. There is another building inside whether they get it, though the cards are mixed among the two shops,” said one person, pointing to the building near the missionary-run school where only SC students study.

Then comes the dreaded two-tumbler system. When Express checked out a tea shop in the village, it came to light that the Dalits were served only in paper cups, whereas the Caste Hindus were served in the usual glasses.”We used to have separate tumblers in the early days. But the tea shops have now changed to paper cups as they do not want to attract attention,” said another person from the SC community.

Like many other villages in the district, the flashpoint in Kurayur also seems to be the place of worship. Dalits say that they have been barred from entering the Mariamman temple in the village, which is now undergoing renovation.

While they were allowed to worship the Ayyanar in the village during the festival, they could do it only during days when the Caste Hindus do not visit.

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