Manisha Kursunge, 21, a student of BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) from Gondia district of Maharashtra, is astounded to see the huge crowd gathered at the Deekshabhoomi here on Friday.
“I have come here for a field assignment. It’s amazing to see so many people and I am trying to understand what motivates them to gather here every year,” said Manisha.
Every year on the day of ‘Ashoka Vijayadashami’, Dalits from across the country gather at Deekshabhoomi (the place where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with his followers in 1956) to celebrate the Dhammachakra Pravartan Din — the day on which he converted to Buddhism. Lakhs of people thronged Nagpur to celebrate the 58th Dhammachakra Pravartan Din. “Babasaheb [Ambedkar] gave us new life. Before him we were not even being considered humans. I come here every year to thank him,” claimed Rahul Bagade, a deputy engineer in the Public Works Department from Amravati.
According to Sanjay Bele, an activist from Nagpur, at every other place in the world, people either gather for religious purpose or rituals. “But at Deekshabhoomi, people come to buy books and to remember their emancipator. Although it had a religious background initially, the yearly event now does not have any religious connection,” Mr. Bele said.
When asked about the political divisions among Dalits, he said, “The community seems to be divided on different lines politically but they come here for the bond they share with Dr. Ambedkar.”