Banke Dalits discriminated against on Shivaratri festivalDalits were barred from offering prayers to Lord Shiva.
On Friday, too, the Dalits overtly were discriminated against. Like yesteryears, they were barred from offering prayers to Lord Shiva.
Laxmi Sarki, one of the devotees who were on the temple premises, said that she was denied from sitting on a mattress placed outside the temple.
“They did not allow me to help arrange the pooja too,” she said. “I feel utterly humiliated.”
Sarki said she has been humiliated like this for years.
Chandra Sunar, also a Dalit, echoes Sarki. “We are discriminated against whenever there’s a religious function,” she said. “Do the gods and goddesses really classify Dalits from non-Dalits?”
Chair of Baijanath Rural Municipality Ward. 1 Rup Bahadur Malla said that he is leading the fight to end the ostracisation of Dalits at the hands of the so-called high-caste people.
“We are fighting for people from all communities to be included in religious gatherings and social functions,” Malla said. “We are trying to dismantle conservative beliefs that discriminate against the Dalits. But we still have a long way to go.”
Malla said that the Temple Management Committee has decided to include people of all caste and creed in its functions. But the composition of the committee itself is not inclusive. The eleven-member committee does not have a single Dalit member.
However, Chair of the committee Nil Bahadur Chhetri said the committee will soon be reshuffled.
“The new committee will include people of all caste,” he said. “We will listen to all communities for the temple’s conservation and development.”
Mankhola Shiva Temple, spread out over five bighas of land, regularly hosts yagnas and other religious functions, and utilises the collected funds for the temple’s development and conservation.