“Caste is not a physical object like a wall of bricks or a line of barbed wire which prevents the Hindus from co-mingling and which has, therefore, to be pulled down- Ambedkar
There is a false impression being created by social media that honour killing is of recent origin. But it is not so; there exists a long history for this condemnable cruelty. This problem can’t be solved if we have a superficial understanding. There is a trend in history that if a person loves another belonging to a caste of higher-order, they end up getting killed. Later, they are worshipped as demi-gods. This cruel trend had been followed for 400 years in Tamil Nadu.
“To prevent intermingling of higher castes with other lower caste, the only way is to kill them”.
This theme is echoed in many folk songs of southern Tamilnadu. These murders are intentional and preplanned. To do his heinous act, the council is being arranged separately. There is no evidence of punishment being given to the perpetrators for this cruelty in these songs. There is a lot of evidence for this cruelty being perpetrated from the 16th century. These songs give a picture of southern Tamil Nadu. But it can also be applied to the whole of Tamil Nadu in general. Of significance are the stories of Kathavarayan, Madurai Veeran, Ivar Rasakkal, Chidambaram and Kaani. All these stories have one thing in common – getting killed for their intercaste marriage.
Kathavarayan, belonging to an oppressed caste, fell in love with Aariyamala belonging to a higher caste. He was killed brutally for trying to marry her. Up to this day, this act is depicted in folk drama. It shows the fate of those who oppose tradition. Stories of these sorts are the roots of the modern-day honour killings happening in Tamil Nadu. Kathavarayan is worshipped as a demi-god in parts of Tamil Nadu.
Chidambaram revives the young girl belonging to the caste of a higher caste who was bitten by a snake. The girl falls in love with him. He marries her since she wished to do so. People came to know about this and Chidambaram was killed.
Kaani belongs to the backward caste. He marries a woman of an oppressed caste and lives with her secretly. They bear a child. Kaani later searches for a teacher for his children as per backward class rules. Upon hearing this, people gather and kill Kaani and bring his child to the Kaali temple. The child is beheaded. Later, the child’s head is stabbed with a spear and kept in the temple.
The story of Vengalarasan is slightly different. He had a daughter who the king of Travancore fell in love with. When he came to capture her, Bengalarasan beheaded her own daughter and threw her head in the street to prevent the intermingling of castes.
All these folk story/songs have one thing in common. Those who marry out of their caste were killed. Later, they go to Kailash where they will get a boon from Lord Shiva which they avenge. After this, the perpetrator caste worships the deceased as demigods! This demigod worship is still prevalent in all parts of Tamil Nadu. Those who sing these songs describe that Lord Shiva sanctioned these killings for marrying the oppressed caste. In the place of Lord Shiva, now there are courts and police. The story remains unfinished.