In the same year (1968) that students blockaded the streets of Paris, the formerly somnolent Jaffna Peninsula—the center of Tamil culture in Sri Lanka—was rocked by its own version of civil unrest. Led by an activist affiliated with the “Peking wing” of the Ceylon Communist party, several hundred “Minority Tamils” (mainly of the traditionally “untouchable” Paḷḷar and Naḻavar castes) sat in nonviolent protest (satyagrãha) before the gates of Jaffna's most orthodox Hindu temple, the temple of Lord Kandacami (Skanda) in the village called Maviddapuram. Hindus believe this large and beautiful structure represents the very ideal of the reformed Śaivite temple advocated by Arumuka Navalar (1822–79), Jaffna's champion Hindu reformer. Traditionally closed to untouchables, the Brahman-owned temple provided the setting for a two-week campaign to gain admittance that was timed to coincide with the temple's summer festival. After days of tense but peaceful confrontation, the demonstration turned violent as dozens of self-styled “Defenders of Saivism,” Hindus of high-caste rank (Veḷḷāḷars and their domestic servants, the Kōviyars), beat back the Minority Tamils with iron rods and sand-filled bottles. Feelings ran very high throughout the peninsula, and there were many incidents of violence, some lethal. To many Tamils and outside observers, it seemed as though Jaffna was poised on the brink of an all-out war between the castes (see, for example, Fontgalland 1968). Yet the conflict abated, and although there were temple-entry skirmishes in Jaffna as late as 1978, the Maviddapuram fracas was followed by a process of political unification as the Tamil community—Veḷḷāḷars and Minority Tamils alike—joined hands to contest the declining fortunes of Tamils in a country dominated by Sinhalese.