Watch/Read: Dalit Woman Denied Entry In Temple, Forcefully Evicted
On April 29, Sunday, a Dalit woman was denied entry in Sri Kamatchi Sameta Boodanadheeswarar temple located in a village 25 kms from Puducherry.
The video of the incident went viral on social media. Radha from Kunichampet Dalit colony visited the temple during a 20-day festival. On entering the premises, she was asked to leave by a group of men who asked her to visit the temple of “her own community”, reported The Hindu.
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The auspicious 20-day festival in Sri Draupadiamman Alayam and Sri Kamatchi Sameta Boodanadheeswarar Temple happens every year. Every dayparts from Mahabharata are recited in microphones stuck to the lamposts leading to the temple.
Radha says that several people from her community stand outside the temple and pray. “Most do not dare to enter the temple. It has been the practice over the years,” Radha says.
A villager from the colony said the temple was under the government and Dalits were allowed to perform rituals on one day of the 18 days but the temple board never gave them an opportunity. “It is only the Vanniyars, Reddiyars, Mudaliars and other caste Hindus who perform the rituals,” he added.
“This year, I wanted to see the marriage of goddess Draupadi conducted on the 15th day of the festival, which fell this Sunday. I entered the temple and waited for the ritual to begin when a person from the temple asked me to leave stating that I was from a lower caste.” Radha said, to The Hindu.
She further added, “They asked me to go and pray in my temple and questioned why I was coming here when I have a temple in the colony. I said that I have come to pray and will leave only after praying to god. But the men in the temple shouted at me and asked a woman to take me outside. She tried to pull me outside. I could only give the camphor and money to the priest and leave.”
She also said that she went to the temple after six years.
Allegations denied by temple authorities
Arun Prakash, president, Sri Draupadiamman Alayam and Sri Kamatchi Sameta Boodanadheeswarar Temple Board, said: “For 18 days, at least 18 families from the village perform rituals and lead the prayers. Each family, according to its economic stature, conducts the rituals every day. They conduct abhishekam in the morning, take the goddess in a procession and organise plays or koothu. Usually, the family who is in charge of the rituals gets the privilege to pray first as per tradition, and the others follow. There must have been some misunderstanding on that particular day. There was no discrimination based on their caste.”
The Logical Indian take
In a modern educated society, caste discrimination should not hold any ground. There should be enough awareness and education to make people understand the evils of caste distinction. A person’s right to offer peaceful prayer in a temple is a fundamental right.