At Deekshabhoomi Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with his followers in 1956

Lakhs of Dalits from across the country gathered at Deekshabhoomi, the place where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, in Nagpur on Dhammachakra Pravartan Din on Wednesday.

On Vijayadashami, Dr. Ambedkar had converted to Buddhism with his followers in 1956. A large number of Dalits and neo-Buddhists gather here every year to remember “their emancipator and to cherish the path of revolution” he showed them.

Suresh Sahare (18) from Bamani village in Maharashtra’s Gondia district says, “I come here for Babasaheb [Dr. Ambedkar]. It’s because of him we can learn and live a dignified life. This place is a holy place for us where our Babasaheb broke the shackles of the caste system and gave us a new direction.”

Shital Kamble (17) from Buldhana doesn’t remember since when she has been coming to Deekshabhoomi, but she says: “My parents have been coming here from last 30 years.” Asked why she and her family come here every year, she says: “This is the least we can do for Babasaheb. He gave his entire life to get us out of the age old caste system so it is our duty to protect that freedom and on this day we remember him and the revolutionary step which he took in 1956.”

But for some like Anjana Khobragade (24), the presence of a political leader for this programme does not augur well for the Dalit movement. “What was the need to call Nitin Gadkari this year for this programme?” she asks. “Look at the stage, this is a religious programme and politicians are sitting on the stage. We can’t blame others when our own leaders let us down.”

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