TIMES NEWS NETWORK epaper.timesofindia.com Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Hyderabad/Chennai/Bangalore: That engineer K Suryanarayana had two wives became public only after his murder in Afghanistan, but the revelation isn’t surprising in Andhra Pradesh, indeed in most of south India. In Tamil Nadu, bigamy is pretty much institutionalised and even has a name — Chinna veedu, which translates as ‘small house’ or second home. It is an age-old tradition surviving to this day despite its illegality. When DMK was in power in the state, security agencies had a tough time providing security to two houses for many ministers, as each of them had two wives. Whether it was the late M G Ramachandran, or M Karunanidhi, they have all had it, and flaunted it. Karunanidhi has married at least three women, the first of whom is dead. The DMK chief now divides his time in the houses of both wives — spending mornings at the Gopalapuram residence with Dayaluammal while moving to the house of his other wife, Rajathiammal, at CIT Nagar in Chennai in the afternoons. Another towering Tamil actor, Gemini Ganesan, married five times while his first wife was alive. The Chinna veedu concept is fairly common in Krishnagiri and Salem districts of TN, where males believe in more the merrier. Actor-director K Bhagyaraj even made a Tamil movie called Chinna Veedu. At least one top Union minister from Tamil Nadu is known to have two wives and so does a senior DMK official, who married his daughter’s classmate. An academic said, ‘‘The social sanction for two wives can be traced to religion and mythology. Lord Muruga, for instance, had two wives.’’ In Andhra, bigamy doesn’t have the traditional sanction it enjoys in TN, but the practice is fairly widespread among the powerful and even a status symbol.