In viral video, Controversial Dravidian leader Suba Veerapandian is heard accusing the Ayyappa devotees to be rice smugglers

A video of controversial Dravidian ideologue and leader Suba Veerapandian is making rounds on the Internet. In the video, the leader is seen making several claims about the rise of Sabarimala shrine to prominence and the reasons behind it. However we have not been able to ascertain the date and time of the video.

In the video, Veerapandian is a heard claiming that Sabarimala was just a minor shrine up till the mid-1960’s, before it suddenly became popular after Tamil movie stars such MN Nambiar started visiting it. In the video, he also claims that the smuggling of rice had played a major role in making Sabarimala pilgrimage so popular across Southern India.

He suggests that the pilgrimage was popularised amongst the Tamil people by rice smugglers. He says that in mid-1960’s, smugglers from Tamil Nadu capitalised on the the growing trend of Sabarimala pilgrimage and started smuggling rice to Kerala by hiding it in Irumudi (a kind of bag in which offerings for Lord Ayyappa are carried by devotees). He says that smugglers chose to use the pilgrimage for their purpose after a law was made, banning the movement of lorry between the two states.

Though It is a fact that during mid-1960’s, Tamil Nadu was facing a derth of rice and to stop its smuggling, the lorry movement to Kerala was banned. There however are no evidences to back up his claims about rice being smuggled using Irumudi or Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Suba Veerapandian is a controversial author closely associated with the Dravidar Kazhagam, which is the parent organisation of DMK. He is is also the General Secretary and founder of Dravidar Iyyaka Tamilar Peravai. He has reportedly been involved in the Anti-tali (mangalsutra) movement of Tamil Nadu, which was led by Dravidar Kazhagam.

Meanwhile, people on twitter have come down heavily on Veerapandian, accusing him of hurting the sentiments of Ayyappa devotees by equating them with rice smugglers.

It must be remembered that a large number of Ayyappa devotees are from the state of Tamil Nadu. Even in the recently held Ayyappa Jyothi protest against the state intervention in traditions of Sabarimala shrine, large number of people from Tamil Nadu participated.