Dalits defy age-old tradition

Anantapur, April 15: It was a fitting tribute to Dr B R Ambedkar, father of the Indian Constitution. Breaking the age-old restrictions, a group of Dalits entered the Sri Raghavendraswamy temple here on Sunday and demanded that the puja rituals be conducted in their name.

In tune with the policy of the temple trust prohibiting Dalits from entering the temple, the priest refused to offer teertham and haarati to the former who successfully barged into the sanctorum. Instead, he suggested them to seek the permission of the temple manager. Only after a few moments of tension did the temple authorities agreed to offer prasadam to the weaker sections.

Earlier, addressing the gathering, Caste Annihilation Committee State secretary B Venkat lamented that entry of Dalits into temples was still restricted in several parts of the State. This tendency was particularly glaring in Anantapur district, where the Dalits were not even offered a place in hotels and tea is served in separate glasses for them.

Veerabhadra temple of Lepakshi and the temple of Yogi Vemana at Katharupalle under N P Kunta mandal have stood as classic examples for discrimination on caste grounds, he noted. "From Monday next, Dalits will enter these temples. Direct action is the only option left to root out the social evil of untouchability," Venkat said.

CPM leader Rambhupal alleged that the temple authorities had failed to facilitate the entry of Dalits even after strict guidelines from the State government.

Earlier, members of the Caste Annihilation Committee took out a rally in the district headquarters.

Talking to Deccan Chronicle later, temple priest Jayakumar said the entry of Dalits into the temple was restricted as it was a policy of the governing trust. However, he hastened to added that the prohibition apply only to the pravachanam sessions.

Source: http://www.deccan.com/regional/template.shtml
Referred by:Balram Sampla
Published on: April 16, 2001
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