The Candid Eye

April 19, 2010

A temple where upper castes bow to Dalits

Stories of socially marginalised people not being allowed into places of worship are common in India. In such a scenario, a Dalit family presiding over an Uttar Pradesh temple for ages is nothing short of exemplary.

It’s only Dalits who have been priests of the Kali Mata temple, dedicated to goddess Durga, in Lakhna town in Etawah, some 300 km from Lucknow, ever since the shrine came up around 200 years ago.

‘Caste divisions and discrimination may not have given Dalits a place of respectability in society, but here as priests they are revered,’ Ram Dular Rajbhar, who owns a grocery store in the town, said.

‘Be it Brahmins, Thakurs or people from any of the other higher castes, after coming inside the temple, all have to bow before the Dalit priests and touch their feet. For others it may be surprising, but it has become a custom for us,’ he added.

Goddess Durga

Situated along the banks of the Yamuna river, the temple is sought after by the residents of Lakhna town for holding marriages, ‘mundan’ (tonsure ceremony of Hindu children) or other rituals particularly performed by Brahmins or members of the upper caste.

‘It’s not just a temple. It’s a place that is an example of social equality,’ said Umesh Dixit, who owns several garment shops in Lakhna town.

‘People in Lakhna also approach the priests to name their babies as it is believed that names given by Dalit priests would bring good luck and prosperity to the children and their families,’ he added.

According to locals, there’s a story behind the custom of Dalit priests. They say King Jaipal Singh, who got the temple constructed, made it mandatory that the priest of the temple would only be a Dalit.

‘While the construction of the temple was under way, Jaipal Singh noticed a Dalit labourer, Chhotelal, was being assaulted by a group of upper caste people for touching the idol that was to be placed inside the temple,’ said another resident Ram Raksha Pandey, who owns an eating joint in Lakhna.

‘Jaipalji soon intervened in the matter and said only Chhotelal and his family would be taking care of the temple after its construction. Since then, the practice has been alive,’ he added.

At present two brothers, Ashok Kumar, 43, and Akhilesh Kumar, 45, who are fourth generation descendants of Chhotelal are the priests at the temple.

Source: Sify

Advertisements

November 18, 2009

Dalit Christians are victims of discrimination with in the Church

Filed under: Christianity,Evangelists,India — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

In view of the forthcoming winter session of Parliament several church organizations are planning to held a demonstration at the Jantar Mantar on 19 th November . While agreeing with the broader objectives the Poor Christian Liberation Movement is of the opinion that the Church authorities in India have not done justice to the marginalised Christians.

 

Cross

The “Poor Christian Liberation Movement” PCLM President RL Francis stated that several Dalits have embraced Christianity for better and equal treatment but the despite conversion their conditions have not changed. The Dalit Christians are still victims of discrimination with in the Church.

The PCLM pointed out that Dalits or the socially underprivileged questions the church leadership for demanding special treatment for them they are treated badly Stating that Dalit Christians accounted for nearly 70 percent of India ’s Christian population, the PCLM, a Christian organization, accused high caste Christians of exploiting them.

The church leadership ‘exploit the poverty and unemployment” among the Dalits to convert them to Christianity. The Church bodies are demanding reservation from the Government but in their own institutions are neglecting and ill treating the Christians of Dalit background. Some all India Christian leaders are minting money from abroad in the name of demonstrations etc. “Let the Church in India make 50 % job reservation for Dalit Christians in their institutions and then go to government for relief” said the PCLM President R L Francis in a press statement.

“But despite a wide network of (Christian) missionary schools and colleges, most of Dalit Christians are illiterate and living in utter poverty because the convent schools are busy catering to the educational needs of rich and high caste people”, the statement further mentioned.

“Same is the case with job opportunities and entrepreneurship development. Dalit Christians are being denied all these facilities while the church leadership continues to flourish by usurping vast foreign funding and real estate resources,” Francis charged.

Source : Orissa Diary

August 12, 2009

Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?

At a time when the Congress government wants to raise the quota for Other Backward Classes to 49.5 per cent in private and public sectors, nobody talks about the plight of the upper castes. The public image of the Brahmins, for instance, is that of an affluent, pampered class. But is it so today?

There are 50 Sulabh Shauchalayas (public toilets) in Delhi; all of them are cleaned and looked after by Brahmins (this very welcome public institution was started by a Brahmin). A far cry from the elitist image that Brahmins have!

There are five to six Brahmins manning each Shauchalaya. They came to Delhi eight to ten years back looking for a source of income, as they were a minority in most of their villages, where Dalits are in majority (60 per cent to 65 per cent). In most villages in UP and Bihar, Dalits have a union which helps them secure jobs in villages.

Did you know that you also stumble upon a number of Brahmins working as coolies at Delhi’s railway stations? One of them, Kripa Shankar Sharma, says while his daughter is doing her Bachelors in Science he is not sure if she will secure a job.

“Dalits often have five to six kids, but they are confident of placing them easily and well,” he says. As a result, the Dalit population is increasing in villages. He adds: “Dalits are provided with housing, even their pigs have spaces; whereas there is no provision for gaushalas (cowsheds) for the cows of the Brahmins.”

You also find Brahmin rickshaw pullers in Delhi. 50 per cent of Patel Nagar’s rickshaw pullers are Brahmins who like their brethren have moved to the city looking for jobs for lack of employment opportunities and poor education in their villages.

Even after toiling the whole day, Vijay Pratap and Sidharth Tiwari, two Brahmin rickshaw pullers, say they are hardly able to make ends meet. These men make about Rs 100 to Rs 150 on an average every day from which they pay a daily rent of Rs 25 for their rickshaws and Rs 500 to Rs 600 towards the rent of their rooms which is shared by 3 to 4 people or their families.

Did you also know that most rickshaw pullers in Banaras are Brahmins?

This reverse discrimination is also found in bureaucracy and politics. Most of the intellectual Brahmin Tamil class has emigrated outside Tamil Nadu. Only 5 seats out of 600 in the combined UP and Bihar assembly are held by Brahmins — the rest are in the hands of the Yadavs.

400,000 Brahmins of the Kashmir  valley, the once respected Kashmiri Pandits, now live as refugees in their own country, sometimes in refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi in appalling conditions. But who gives a damn about them? Their vote bank is negligible.

And this is not limited to the North alone. 75 per cent of domestic help and cooks in Andhra Pradesh are Brahmins. A study of the Brahmin community in a district in Andhra Pradesh (Brahmins of India by J Radhakrishna, published by Chugh Publications) reveals that today all purohits live below the poverty line.

Eighty per cent of those surveyed stated that their poverty and traditional style of dress and hair (tuft) had made them the butt of ridicule. Financial constraints coupled with the existing system of reservations for the ‘backward classes’ prevented them from providing secular education to their children.

In fact, according to this study there has been an overall decline in the number of Brahmin students. With the average income of Brahmins being less than that of non-Brahmins, a high percentage of Brahmin students drop out at the intermediate level. In the 5 to 18 year age group, 44 per cent Brahmin students stopped education at the primary level and 36 per cent at the pre-matriculation level.

The study also found that 55 per cent of all Brahmins lived below the poverty line — below a per capita income of Rs 650 a month. Since 45 per cent of the total population of India is officially stated to be below the poverty line it follows that the percentage of destitute Brahmins is 10 per cent higher than the all-India figure.

There is no reason to believe that the condition of Brahmins in other parts of the country is different. In this connection it would be revealing to quote the per capita income of various communities as stated by the Karnataka finance minister in the state assembly: Christians Rs 1,562, Vokkaligas Rs 914, Muslims Rs 794, Scheduled castes Rs 680, Scheduled Tribes Rs 577 and Brahmins Rs 537.

Appalling poverty compels many Brahmins to migrate to towns leading to spatial dispersal and consequent decline in their local influence and institutions. Brahmins initially turned to government jobs and modern occupations such as law and medicine. But preferential policies for the non-Brahmins have forced Brahmins to retreat in these spheres as well.

Caste shouldn’t overwrite merit

According to the Andhra Pradesh study, the largest percentage of Brahmins today are employed as domestic servants. The unemployment rate among them is as high as 75 per cent. Seventy percent of Brahmins are still relying on their hereditary vocation. There are hundreds of families that are surviving on just Rs 500 per month as priests in various temples (Department of Endowments statistics).

Priests are under tremendous difficulty today, sometimes even forced to beg for alms for survival. There are innumerable instances in which Brahmin priests who spent a lifetime studying Vedas are being ridiculed and disrespected.

At Tamil Nadu’s Ranganathaswamy Temple, a priest’s monthly salary is Rs 300 (Census Department studies) and a daily allowance of one measure of rice. The government staff at the same temple receive Rs 2,500 plus per month. But these facts have not modified the priests’ reputation as ‘haves’ and as ‘exploiters.’ The destitution of Hindu priests has moved none, not even the parties known for Hindu sympathy.

The tragedy of modern India is that the combined votes of Dalits/OBC and Muslims are enough for any government to be elected. The Congress quickly cashed in on it after Independence, but probably no other government than Sonia Gandhi’s  has gone so far in shamelessly dividing Indian society for garnering votes.

The Indian government gives Rs 1,000 crores (Rs 10 billion) for salaries of imams in mosques and Rs 200 crores (Rs 2 billion) as Haj subsidies. But no such help is available to Brahmins and upper castes. As a result, not only the Brahmins, but also some of the other upper castes in the lower middle class are suffering in silence today, seeing the minorities slowly taking control of their majority.

Anti-Brahminism originated in, and still prospers in anti-Hindu circles. It is particularly welcome among Marxists, missionaries, Muslims, separatists and Christian-backed Dalit movements of different hues. When they attack Brahmins, their target is unmistakably Hinduism.

So the question has to be asked: are the Brahmins (and other upper castes) of yesterday becoming the Dalits of today?

~~~ Article by Francois Gautier, appeared in Rediff on May 23, 2006:- source.

Related Articles:-

Doctors in arms

At Ground Zero of the quota protests

The middle class deserves what it is getting

Do our institutes connect with the real India?

Who are the real Dalits of India?

From the Indian Express: ‘These measures will not achieve social justice’

How reservations fracture Hindu society


July 22, 2009

A time to heal

 
Time2Heal_Dalit

It is time to recognize the good work being done for Dalit upliftment,in current times and for centuries, by the saints and lots of people from upper castes. The hatred and revenge tactics of politicians need to be thrown away by the common people. Conversion will not uplift the people living in same social circumstances.  Kindly download and enlarge the picture to read the full article.

Previous related articles:-

Bigotry alive for Christian Dalits

Churches are responsible for pathetic condition of Dalit Christians

Stick to your ground

May 20, 2009

Churches are responsible for the pathetic condition of Dalit Christians

Filed under: Christianity,Evangelists — thecandideye @ 3:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Mr. R.L. Francis is the National President of the Dalit Christians organization known as ‘Poor Christian Liberation Movement’ (PCLM). On May 2, 2009, in Bhopal, Mr. R.L. Francis along with his companions, Rev. Fr. William Premdass Chaudhary and Mr. P.B. Lomeo (Editor of the Church Restoration, Bhopal, Monthly) toured to the Christians colonies in Bhopal and listened and discussed local / Dalit Christians’ problems. Mr. Francis says that the churches are responsible for the pathetic condition for Dalit Christians in India. 

Mr. Francis says that church authorities are spending crores of rupees in order to spread their kingdom through preaching. There are around two hundred (200) catholic dioceses, in India, which follow rules and regulation of Vatican and in the coming of fifty years (50) there will be more dioceses in India. Mr. Francis says that if Catholic Church spends more money for the development and enlistment rather than on preaching then the condition of Dalit Christians, who are wounded sheep of this fold, will improve their condition and they will have better opportunity in their lives. 

Mr. France says that the church authorities have best educational institutions in India. There are about four to five per cent Christian population in India but churches have hold on around twenty two per cent (22%) of educational institutions and thirty per cent (30%) of health care. Next to government, the churches are the biggest land owners in India. In spite of having enough facilities with the church yet Dalit Christians’ condition is deteriorating. There are fifteen per cent (15%) Dalit Christians in the cities and forty per cent (40%) Dalit Christians in the rural areas are illiterate in spite of having best convent schools in the church. Thousand of Tribal girls are forced to do the work as Aaya in the rich families. These girls are coming from Tribal areas where there are no job opportunities. These girls (Aayas) are physically molested and mentally tortured. 
Churches are not taking enough care of these girls. In Madhya Pradesh (M.P.) alone, in spite of less Christians population, catholic church have crores of rupees and enough means to provide better education and job to Dalit Christians. In Madhya Pradesh the church have more then one hundred and fifty (150) High schools and half of them are convent schools. In Bhopal alone catholic church have the property, movable and unmovable, worth of more than six hundred crores (600) yet Christians’ condition is not improved. The church property and money are being used by the authorities as they wish.

Source: FPR

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.