Christians pay homage to pioneer of Dalit Music


By DCD Reporter

Trichy: James Antony Peter who is known for his pet name Paravai (Bird) passed away on February 3 after a long illness in Trichy. He was 63.

He was survived by his wife Mrs. Madalai Mary and three children.

He was a man of transparency and committed to the cause of Dalit Christians. His interest in folk and Dalit art pushed him to train thousands of priests and nuns in Tamil Nadu. He travelled across continents to spread the beauty of Dalit and folk dance and songs.

He worked in the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC), Commissions for Youth and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as coordinator of arts. Under the leadership of Fr. Packianathan who is now the Diocesan Administrator and Fr. Jerosin of Tuticorin, he was trained in 1992.

James travelled around Tamil Nadu and formed cultural groups. He was a program coordinator at the state level, says Babu Chinnappan, one of the zonal coordinators of TNBC SC/ST Commission who worked with him in the team.

In his 26 years of social life, he lived for empowering people more than spending time with his family.

He was fond of the Tamil language and culture and name his daughter Tamil Selvi (the feminine name for wealth). He was a State General Secretary for Ulaikkum Makkal Viduthalai Iyakkam (Working People Liberation Movement).

His songs and beating of Drum (Parai) motivated many to partake in the Dalit Christian struggle. Though he lost his fingers in an accident, his love for beating the drum was praiseworthy, says Geetha Sagayarani.

In 2010 under the leadership of Fr. Z. Devasagayaraj, the TNBC Commission for SC/ST undertook a long march from Kanniyakumari to Chennai. The doctors advised him not to travel long and prohibited him from singing because of his health condition, but he was firm in his decision and walked till the end singing all the way, adds Geetha.

James had sung awareness songs on Dalit, women’s rights. He is the role model for the youth who wants to dedicate their life for society.

He created an identity for himself, as an artist, a human right and an activist. He loved nature and natural medicines. Above all, he has motivated many persons. He is a multi-talented personality.

He was from Purathakudi a small remote village situated in the diocese of Trichirappalli where the Church has been closed and no mass is celebrated due to caste clashes. The duel cemetery system exists there.

His family, co-workers, friends and relatives observed the 16th day of his death and his photo was garlanded and a memorial service took place.



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