NCSC chief breaks taboo, enters Orissa temple

Last Updated: Saturday, June 25, 2011 - 21:05

Bhubaneswar: Breaking the age-old ban on
the entry of dalits into a Hindu temple in Puri district,
Chairman of the National Commission for Schedule Castes PL
Punia on Friday entered the premises of Kali Temple at Ranapada
village under Brahmagiri police station.

Punia, along with senior officials of the commission,
went to Ranapada village on the bank of Chilika lake after
getting information on the prevalence of the practice of
untouchability in Puri district.

"I first informed the gathering that I am a dalit and
then entered into the Kali temple," he said.

Though no one opposed Punia`s entry, the main temple
was closed before his arrival. "I was shocked to find that the
temple closed before my arrival. Generally, they perform
`aarti` and other rituals during evening. But they
deliberately closed it," Punia said.

Describing it as a "serious" matter, Punia said the
temple authorities had also removed a sign board announcing
that dalits were allowed only to a particular spot from where
they could have `darshan` of the Goddess.

During his interaction with upper caste people at the
village and also the priest of the temple, Punia was informed
that as it was against the tradition, the dalits were not
allowed entry.

"Our fore-fathers did not allow dalits to step inside
the temple. We will like to obey the tradition," a villager
told Punia.

Stating that there was gross discrimination against
dalits in the village, he said he would take up the matter at
the national level as the community had been put to
socio-economic boycott by upper caste people since long.

PTI




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