Dalits fume over fine on their women for entering temple in Karnataka

Upper caste people have restricted entry of Dalits into Sri Basaveshwara Temple at Sigaranahalli in Holenarasipur taluk. Photo by Special Arrangement.  

The Scheduled Castes community at Sigaranahalli in Holenarsipur taluk is furious after the ‘upper caste’ people of the village imposed a penalty on four Dalit women for entering a temple.

The women have refused to pay the penalty arguing that they too have rights to enter the temple as they contribute money to organise its festival.

When The Hindu visited the village on Sunday, Thayamma, in her late 50s, came down heavily on the ‘upper castes’ for questioning her entry into the Sri Basaveshwara Temple, constructed in 2001. It was on August 31 that the four women entered the temple for a special puja held on behalf of Sri Basaveshwara Stree Shakti Sangha, a self-help group consisting of 20 members.

“There were about nine women from the Vokkaliga community and four from Dalit families. Devaraja, a Vokkaliga, raised his voice opposing our entry into the temple. He said SCs are not allowed in the temple. I questioned him. He attempted to beat one of us,” said Thayamma, a former member of the Hariharpur Gram Panchayat. The next day, the ‘upper caste’ people held a meeting and resolved to impose a penalty of Rs. 1,000 on the self-help group, besides insisting that the sangha hold rituals meant for 'purification' of the temple, arguing that it had lost its 'sanctity' with the entry of the SC women.

Community hall

Sigaranahalli is about 2-km away from Haradanahalli, the native place of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. A few years ago, a community hall was built here by the Hassan Zilla Panchayat.

Mr. Deve Gowda also contributed funds from his MP Local Area Development Fund. But now, the community hall has been converted into Vokkaliga Bhavan, restricting the entry of Dalits.

Thayamma recalled that she was denied permission to organise her daughter’s marriage in the community hall in 2001. “They did not handover the keys of the hall, though they had earlier agreed to rent it out. It was a tough time for me. I had to organise the marriage outside my house,” she said.

Padmamma, another woman in the Scheduled Castes colony, said last year a teenage boy, who had gone inside the community hall to have food at a function organised by the ‘upper caste’ people, was driven out mercilessly. “The hall was built using government funds. We Dalits do not have an alternative place to hold our programmes. We need the right to enter community hall,” she added.

When The Hindu brought the issue to the notice of N.R. Purushottam, district social welfare officer, said restricting the entry of Dalits into a temple or a community hall amounts to violation of laws. “I will get details from the people concerned and take appropriate action,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 2:04:05 PM |

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