Relatives follow an unusual ritual of beating each other with broom at a century-old temple in this district during festivals to sweep away differences and unite the family.
Cousins or in-laws thrashed each other in a friendly manner with brooms at a festival recently at the Sri Muthalamman temple near Andipatti in Theni district, temple sources said.
"Such an act help resolve differences and unite them," they said.
Gopal Krishna, a devotee, said the custom could have started with someone taking a vow that he would beat himself with a broomstick if he was relieved of some problem with his relative.
He would have spread the message that his problem got solved, sparking such a belief among other devotees.
As per custom and traditions, married men in the family and their brothers participate in the ritual.
Another devotee Kanaka said the century-old custom did solve disputes. "That is our experience," she said.
Relatives might not be on speaking terms due to some misunderstanding. The "broom beating ceremony" helps them resolve the issues. After beating each other with brooms, they hug each other and thus the festival ends, sources said.
Even if the bridegrooms are from other villages they are asked to follow the ritual, they added.
The custom made devotees feel like children and forget animosity, said another devotee.