Perumal Murugan is one of the best know Tamil writers in the country, he also the most controversial. The controversy started when a book by him, Madhorubhagan (translated as ‘One Part Woman’) sparked protests in 2014. The book was published in 2010 and was set in his native town of Thiruchengode. It dealt with a couple, Kali and Ponna, who were the subject of humiliation for their inability to have a child. The novel portrays their eventual participation in a chariot festival to honor the God Ardhanareeshwara. During the festival, for one night, the local community relaxed taboos and allowed free relations between men and women.
In 2014 local caste-based and religious Hindu groups objected to the fictional portrayal of traditions at the Ardhanareeswarar Temple in Tiruchengode. There were protests at the local as well as state level. The protestors claimed that Mr. Murugan had hurt community sentiments, defamed women, and outraged religious feelings. The police got involved and sat down both the parties for a ‘peace talk’. As a result of the ‘talk’, Mr. Murugan signed an “unconditional apology” and agreed to withdraw all unsold copies of the novel. Soon after that, he published his literary obituary on his Facebook page. “Author Perumal Murugan has died,” the Tamil writer and professor posted. “He is no god, so he is not going to resurrect himself. Nor does he believe in reincarnation. From now on, Perumal Murugan will survive merely as the teacher he has been.”
The matter ultimately reached the Madras High Court. Petitions were also filed asking the Court to ban One Part Woman. The Court sided with the author in 2016. It invalidated the settlement, dismissed the criminal complaints, and dismissed the petition seeking a ban on the book.