Barred from temple, dalits convert

Orissa HC had ordered district administration to allow Dalits into the temple

Orissa HC had ordered district administration to allow Dalits into the temple

Kendrapara (Orissa): A thousand Dalits embraced Buddhism a day after Ambedkar Jayanti in Orissa’s Kendrapara district. However, these were conversions with a difference.

The Dalits were shunning Hinduism in protest as they weren’t allowed inside the Jagannath temple located in the area."Even though we were Hindus we were not allowed inside the temple to worship the Lord. So what is the use of being in this religion? So in protest we have embraced Buddhism," said Kendrapara resident Laxmipriya Mallick.

The Orissa High Court had ordered the district administration to allow Dalits into the temple. But those denied entry say the district administration worked out a compromise formula to please the upper castes. The administration reportedly constructed an iron grill at quite a distance from the sanctum sanctorum to keep the Dalits away.

"There is so much of caste discrimination in Hindu religion. This is something which should be stopped," said a Buddhist monk MV Biswabandhu. The administration says the conversions are politically motivated.

"According to me the Keradagada temple issue has been solved. Someone is unnecessarily trying to create tension in the area by doing such conversion," says Kendrapara Collector Kashinath Sahoo.But these mass conversions perhaps tell a different story. Neither the government nor the judiciary has been able to solve the Kendrapara problem and untouchability still remains a problem.


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