Many Hindus actively practice, promote and protect untouchability, the caste-based discrimination. There are several layers of untouchability in Hindu society but the most visible is the one against the Dalits (collectively those who are at the lower levels of the caste hierarchy) by the non-Dalits (collectively those who are at the higher strata). Untouchability exists among Dalits too. It exists among non-Dalits as well.
In the Bhimdabar neighborhood of Pipariya Dostiya Village in Rhautahat district, the non-Dalits (primarily the Yadavs) don’t allow the Dalits to go into the Bhagawati Brahmasthan temple. Both communities pray, revere and fear the same Goddess. But the non-Dalits think the Dalits shouldn’t enter the temple. Dalits think otherwise.
On 14 May, some Dalits went inside the temple to perform puja as part of a wedding ceremony. Previously they used to do such puja outside the temple. No law stops Dalits from entering a temple to pray and puja. Non-Dalits were not happy. On 7 June, they went to the Dalit settlement and damaged some houses, water pumps and injured some people and animals.
On 20 June, we visited the Dalit settlement. I was struck by the sight of posters depicting various Hindu Gods and Goddess pasted on the damaged wall of a house that had its roof partly destroyed by the attackers. I was also struck by the fact that one of the surnames of the Dalits in this and many other villages in south is Ram. The Rams were attacked by the Yadavs who think they are connected to Krishna.
Peter has more photos on his website from our visit to the village.
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