Leading with an example
Since her birth 35 years ago MA Sneha, an advocate in Tirupathur, has remained without any caste or religion Whether it was her birth or school certificate, the columns on caste and religion remained blankRecently, the Tamil Nadu government issued Sneha a formal certificate that she is a caste and religion less person Perhaps she is the first one in the country to be formally certified so
Since her birth 35 years ago MA Sneha, an advocate in Tirupathur, has remained without any caste or religion. Whether it was her birth or school certificate, the columns on caste and religion remained blank.Recently, the Tamil Nadu government issued Sneha a formal certificate that she is a caste and religion less person. Perhaps she is the first one in the country to be formally certified so.
"When the government can issue community certificates, it struck me why not I get a caste and religion less certificate. Initially, I had requested for such a certificate through letters. Later, I applied for it like any other person applying for a community certificate," Sneha said."My family - parents, sisters, husband and daughters - have been living without any caste or religious identification. The certificate is just a legal document. We are all atheists," Sneha said.
In a country where a person's name can denote his/her caste or religion, Sneha and her husband K Parthibaraja have named their three daughters with a mix of Buddhist, Christian and Muslim names - Aadhirai Nasreen, Aadhila Irene and Aarifa Jessy."Several decades ago when times were not this modern, my in-laws had named their daughters differently," Parthibaraja remarked.
"My father-in-law PV Anandakrishnan and mother-in-law Manimozhi are both advocates and belonged to different castes. They were rationalists and Leftists. Sneha was named after a Telangana girl Snehalatha died in police custody," Parthibaraja.Sneha's two younger sisters have Muslim and Christian names - Mumtaj Suriya and Jennifer.
The initials before Sneha's name - MA - denote the first letter of her parents' names. Recalling her childhood days, Sneha said: "We grew up in a different environment. Our home was frequented by communist friends of my parents. At home, the books, too, were on communism, rationalism and atheism. My sisters and I imbibed those principles.""We are staunch atheists. We didn't waver an inch in our core belief even when one of my sisters was a born thalassemic patient requiring a regular blood transfusion. Even when she faced life-threatening ailments we didn't go in search of any God," Sneha said.
Speaking about his marriage, Parthibaraja, a Tamil professor in Sacred Heart College in Tirupathur, said: "I hail from a religiously inclined family. But I got interested in the philosophies of Periyar (EV Ramasamy, founder of Dravidar Kazhagam) and Ambedkar and became an atheist."eha said her three daughters and two sisters will soon apply for no caste, no religion certificates."Early in my life I had got a community certificate. I had to approach the court first to get the no caste, no religion certificate," Parthibaraja said.