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Folk artists protest across Tamil Nadu over restrictions on temple festivals

- April 13, 2021

Chennai, April 13(BPNS)

Folk artists across Tamil Nadu continued their protest for the second day on Tuesday over restrictions on temple festivals amid Covid surge. The  demand of the folk artists is that the festivals must be allowed to function with a  cap on the number of people participating.

The artists were expecting a good season but the second Covid wave has thrashed their hopes. P Velmanikyam, Secretary of Tirunelveli unit of folk artists while speaking to BPNS said ,”It was a total lockdown last year and we were expecting a good season to make up for the losses of last year. Unfortunately it is not to be, we demand the government to restrict the number of people reaching the temples and to have a cap on that, but the total ban is totally unfounded.”

The Madras High Court had directed the state government to provide a minimum assistance for the folk artists at the rate of Rs 2000 per person in view of the Covid pandemic and state government had distributed money to 6810 registered folk artists in the state of Tamil Nadu.

This was after the folk artists who were not members of the folk artists welfare board had moved court that they also be included in the list of beneficiaries who are not registered with the board. The court accepted the prayer of the unorganized folk artists and had directed the state government to pay one time assistance to these folk artists thus paving the way for the assistance to the 6810 folk artists.

The beneficiary artists include nada swaram, vocal, therukoothu, mangala isai and practitioners of other popular folk arts.

B Ravichandran of the Folk artists welfare association in Nagapattinam while speaking to BPNS said, “The amount given by the state government is a pittance which we used to earn for a single performance in a night and the government should come forward and kindly relax the restrictions.”

Folk artists’ welfare association conducted a protest march on Tuesday before the collectorate at Madurai demanding an assistance of Rs 20,000 or to relax the restrictions so that they are not starving. 

Sundaram Kalyan , renowned therukoothu artist inaugurated the protest march and said ,”We demand the state  government to provide us an assistance of a minimum of Rs 20,000 or please be kind enough to relax the restrictions on temple festivals. Please allow the  festivals but with a restriction on the number of people attending the temple festivals.”