HSSF, 2020: Shakti is Power and Shakti is woman

Hindu culture is in no need of sermons on freedom for women to be given or taken. The 11th Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair held at Guru Nanak College, Velachery, Chennai, between January 29, 2020 and Febuary 4, 2020 provided a glimpse of the unique place of woman in Hindu society as experienced  since ages. Significantly, the Fair was inaugrated by Mata Amritanandamayi;  Kannagi, the first women revolutionalry activist in Tamil Hindu history was the centre of attraction. HSSF Fair is themed this year as "Revering Womanhood".

Vanniyars: Their deity is a woman
Vanniyars are a warrior clan community in Tamil Hindu history. Their main deity is Draupadi or Panchali of Mahabharatha. Born out of Fire, she is known to destroy sins. Contrary to the popular belief, most Draupadi temples have a Vanniyar priest rather than a Brahmin priest.

Narikuravas: Gender equality is their culture
Well, we have seen Narikuravas (the Gypsy tribe) on roads, train, waysides selling knickknacks. It is indeed visual surprise to see them display and sell their chains, ear rings, bangles in a stall. Being an oldest counterpart of the Hindu culture, Kali is their Kuladevta. Speaking to VSK, a lady of the community said they are happy first to be part of an exhibition like this. They feel very much a part of the Hindu society. If a stall is not given here for them here in a "Hindu Fair", then where else she asserted. Their community is one of the pioneers of gender equality in the country. Women folk in their tribe are involved in business, move around the country for work and are consulted in matters of their family and society welfare. Yearly once, Narikuravas across the country come together in a open ground and pray to Goddess Kali and offer feast to villages around. Their woe is to move them from MBC quota to SC quota in Tamil Nadu as they can better obtain the reservation benefits. 

Devendra Kula vellalar: App is everything for them
The Devendra Kula vellalar community are getting back to their vedic roots. Worshipping the lord of Devas, Devendra has become their identity. They are a peerless group which wants to move out of the reservation quota. Like the yadavas connecting with Lord Krishna, Devendra Kula Vellalars connect with Lord Indra. It gives the spiritual lift, says Thangaraj an activist. This is the reason they desist using Ambedkar's photos to identify their community.  He insists every community should find their spiritual connect within the Hindu roots and when that realisation happens with every community, this country and Hindu culture will reach greater heights. They have launched an App "Indran" to connect more with their community.

Mudaliars : Shedding the Dravida cult
Gender parity is not a new concept here. Right from pre-independence era Thillayadi Valliammai to modern era Mithali Raj (Indian Women Cricket team captain), Mudaliar community has many women achievers to draw inspiration. Another accomplishment they are proud of the prevalent bhakti cult in their community. SivaSri Arunai vadivel Mudaliar's interpretation of Saiva thirumurai is very well appreciated. Unlike the Tamil secessionists of today, who claim Tamil saivam is a seperate religion from Hindusim, Shri Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar gave the essence of the 12 Thirumurai  with its original Hindu identity in tact. Though members of this community are the fore runners of Dravidian Movement, the community takes pride in identifying themselves with doyens like Arunai Vadivel, Mu Varadarasanar and Ethiraj Mudaliar (founder of Ethiraj College) rather than their Dravidian counterparts.

Kallars : Temple festivals round the year

The Mukkulathor Kallar Community never forget their Pitrus and forefathers. Their stall every year is truly a feast to eyes. Loaded with information about their community history and connected temples for each Naadu (locality with 60 villages), this stall is one that every community should emulate. Being the warrior tribe, the elderly representatives know more history about their land than the leftist historians. The information rich stall welcomes the visitor with an imposing war scene from the Natham Battle of 1755, waged to save the Kalamegha Perumal Statue burgled by the British Christians. They also have sourced information from the old British records about this battle. A majestic statue of Ponnambalam Pulliyan who defeated the Muslim invaders in the 16th century adorns the entrance. Their woe is to let them celebrate their forefathers, festivals and Rath Utsav in peace. Often these events are disrupted by evangelists.  They are hand in glove with the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department. They strongly voice their views for removal of governement intervention in Hindu temples. An incident they quote, is the disruption of Vellalur Ezhai Kaatha Amman Festival in 2017. We talk tall about reverence towards women. Not only women, but 7 girl children are selected and worshipped as goddess for 15 days. The surrounding area of 60 villages, encompassing 2 districts, observe fast for a fortnight. They don't do tadka in their foods, refrain from meat and alcohol, do not travel abroad, do not wear new clothes, even Governeent constrction of building is stalled for those 2 weeks in these areas. An attempt to sever this event in 2017 was made by a Christian  NGO from Coimbatore under the pretext of humiliation to girl children. With the help of Hindu activists and party workers, the barrier was crossed of course after a lot of heart burning to these God fearing Hindus.

Fair sprinkling of seva activities too
The Anatha Preta Kainkarya Trust founded by Sridhar ji, performs final rites to unclaimed and orphaned dead. Giving the right dignity due to the departed, his trust has also many women participants. From carrying the departed to performing final rites, women are a part here. The HSSF tells all about scores of such thoughtful seva activities going on all over.

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