In heart-wrenching tales of dedication, the latest bid of prayers for the health of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, popularly called Amma, tops the list. Tamil Nadu is witnessing many prayer meets across temples, mosques, and churches these days, but a religious procession conducted in Amma’s constituency, RK Nagar, has sparked a controversy.
Pictures of the procession are being circulated where young children, as young as 5-12 years, are seen with faces pierced by metal rods as part of ritual held for wellness of their Amma. This ritual is usually performed as part of worshiping Lord Muruga, but the AIADMK organised it for Jayalalithaa’s recovery.
Patali Makka Katchi (PMK) leader S Ramadoss has severely criticised the ritual citing it as human rights violation. He said that hundreds of people participated in the procession, over 20 children too, who were pierced against their wishes. He claims children shouldn’t be forced for such things, as the AIADMK workers were trying to impress the leaders of their party.
MLA P Vetrivel of the AIADMK had admitted organising the event and said the decision of following the ritual was of the children’s free will as part of prayers for the recovery of their Amma. He claims that Ramadoss is insulting tradition and people with his comments. Vetrivel has challenged Ramadoss to criticise the Thai Pusam festival of his village, TOI reported.
An 11-year-old boy, who participated in the procession by piercing his cheek, said he had participated in such rituals before as well, but this time it is for Amma’s health and recovery. He says she gave him books and helps other children as well, and on the question of pain, the 5th grader rejected it, saying, “If I think of God, why will it hurt,” TOI reported.