Dalits storm Ram mandir in Vizag district

Bangarammapalem (Visakhapatnam), April 20: The Dalits of Bangarammapalem under Sabbavaram mandal entered into the local Ram mandir and performed puja on Friday.

Leaders of Struggle Committee on Caste discrimination, CPM and All India Democratic Women’s Association were present on the occasion.

Two Dalit women N Appalanarasamma and V Nookalamma performed the main puja in the sanctum sanctorum by breaking coconuts and offering fruits and flowers while hundreds of people from all castes were witness to the event. Temple priest, however, was not present as he was asked by the villagers to abstain from the puja.

The village is dominated by influential BC community, the Gavaras and there are about 60 Dalit families in the village. The Dalits in the village are relatively well-off as they were given pucca houses and agricultural lands by the government.

Interestingly, the Dalits are not barred from entering the Siva temple situated atop a hillock. The temple is managed by the endowments department. But the Ram mandir, managed locally has restrictions on Dalits’ entry. Siva temple trust board chairman D Someswara Rao said elements from outside the village were provoking the Dalits to enter the temple.

“We are all bound by the traditions and local Dalits have no objection to the customs being practised since ages. But outside elements are egging on the Dalits to break the traditions. This can lead to rupture and the harmony might be broken,’’ he said.

He said the board has a Dalit member who never protested against the ban in Ram mandir.

Similar views were echoed by several other Gavaras. “Today they performed puja in the presence of huge gathering, can they dare to do it tomorrow?’’ asked K Ramanamma of the village. “We share same glass in the hotels and draw water from the same well virtually there is no discrimination in the village,’’ said another woman.

Source:"Deccan Chronicle" (Secunderabad) Report(21-04-01)
Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: April 21, 2001
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