Chennai, Jan 29: Gandhiji has visited Tamil Nadu twenty times between 1896 and 1946. His association with Tamils started in South Africa while practising law. He has visited the interiors of the state and interacted with diverse personalities such as Kanchi saint
Chandrasekara Saraswati and E.V.Ramaswamy Periyar.
“His harijan yatras to the state were spurned by orthodox people. Though the Kanchi Acharya appreciated Gandhi’s devotion to God during the meeting between them in 1927, the Acharya objected to Gandhiji’s politics of inclusion of harijans. But Gandhiji ignored the criticism,” said A.Marx, author of the book Gandhi and Tamil orthodoxy.
Though rationalist leader E.V.Ramaswamy Periyar did not meet Gandhiji after July 1927, Periyar always had high regards for Gandhiji. When Gandhiji passed away in 1948, he suggested that India should be named Gandhistan. He also wanted Indian year and religion named after Gandhi.
It was during his visit to Madurai in 1925, he decided to change his attire to be seen as one with the poor peasants of the country. As he supported the temple entry agitation of the dalits and the OBCs, they were able to enter Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple in 1939 under the leadership of Vaidyanatha Iyer.