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COVID-19: Police say no to traditional Pongal games in Tamil Nadu’s Tenkasi and Tirunelveli

By Express News Service

TIRUNELVELI: With all petitions seeking permission to conduct traditional Pongal games in villages being rejected by the Tenkasi and Tirunelveli police on Tuesday, the villagers are alleging double standards by the State government in granting permits.

“Going by this police decision, hundreds of villages here will not be able to conduct the games for the first time ever. We had received permission to conduct them even last year. The State government has allowed jallikattu to be held. Why can’t it also grant nod for other traditional games?” asked T Antony, a resident of Keezhapavoor.

“We have conducted Pongal games for the past 45 years. Irrespective of religion and caste, all youngsters return to their villages to witness these games. There was a time when women chose their partners on the basis of the latter’s performance in games like Ilavatta Kal Thookkuthal, Vadam Iluthal, Vadam Eruthal and Vazhukku Maram Eruthal. These games are traditional to us just like jallikattu is traditional to the Madurai region. The government should permit us conduct the games adhering to COVID SOP,” said S Rajan of Alangulam.

The temple administrations have also been denied permission to conduct car processions. 

According to a reply from a sub-inspector in Pavoorchatram to a petitioner, the permission to hold games for children is being rejected owing to the spread of COVID-19 across the country, welfare of the public and the State government’s prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC.

Meanwhile, functionaries of both the DMK and the BJP in Tenkasi district have planned to hoist their party flag in rural and urban bodies on January 14. The DMK has even printed invitations for the flag hoisting ceremony in Alangulam.

When contacted by The New Indian Express, Tirunelveli SP P Saravanan said that they had to deny permissions for games considering the welfare of the people. “The pandemic is rapidly spreading. We have already lost many lives to it. Many families lost their breadwinners,” he added.

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