Indian fans steal '10,000 litres' of milk to bless film

he ritual is often performed by film fans, such as here for a film starring Rajinikanth in 2016
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An Indian actor's request for fans to pour barrels of milk on his film poster to bring good luck has led to the reported theft of nearly 10,000 litres and a call for police protection.

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The Hindu practice "paal abhishekam" involves pouring milk on the idols of deities, but is also often performed on film billboards and posters of their big stars, particularly in Tamil Nadu state.

In a video message, actor Silambarasan urged fans to use barrels of milk for his new film, rather than just cartons.

His message went viral and sellers soon started to report thefts, which a milk traders' group says have totalled around 10,000 litres (2,600 gallons) across Tamil Nadu in two days.

"Such appeals would misguide the youth and create a law and order problem in the state," said S.A. Ponnusamy, president of the Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers Employees Welfare Association.

 The organisation is now said to be calling for police protection for milk dealers when the movie - Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven - is released on 1 February.
"We urged the police commissioner to protect milk dealers during the movie's release," the association's president told The New Indian Express.

"Simbu's speech sounds like he is instigating his fans against fans of other actors.

"So we urged the commissioner to take action against Simbu on grounds of law and order. There is also usually milk theft before the release of movies as there are some fans who cannot even afford to buy milk. So, during this movie's release, we urged the police to give us protection."

The association added that more than 25% of people in Tamil Nadu cannot afford milk and using it to celebrate film releases is wasteful.

The film sees a young heir from an affluent family try to reunite estranged family members.