When the gods can’t come home

Updated - April 02, 2016 09:11 pm IST

Published - May 07, 2015 12:00 am IST - Tumakuru:

The Lakshmi Ranganatha Swami temple in Kaalapura of Sira taluk was out of bounds for 35 Dalit households for years. This changed on March 11, 2014, with the intervention of the police and the district administration.

This does not, however, mean that discrimination has died in all forms against the Madiga (SC) community. When the idol is taken out during the annual Utsava, through the village to individual households, the houses of Dalits are given a miss. The village falls in the constituency of Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra.

Siddaiah, organising convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti of Sira taluk and resident of the village, who was instrumental in starting the campaign, says people continue to throw insults at him at every opportunity, though the fear of law has forced them to refrain from a physical attack. For the past one year, only a few families of Dalits have dared to step into the temple, while the majority still do not venture in fearing they might be denied work from the ‘upper’ caste people.

S.R. Gowda, who is the head of the temple, told The Hindu : “This has been practised for years and most of the people playing musical instruments in the Utsava refuse to go to the houses of the Madiga community, and that is why the palanquin is not taken to their homes.” He claimed that many Dalits themselves resist it, adding that he “personally” has no problem if the Utsava goes to a Dalit home.

In the neighbouring Thalagunda village, zilla panchayat member Laithamma Manjunath said she had gained entry to the temple only after becoming a member of the local body. “I am being called by the ‘upper’ caste people to come into the temple after entering politics,” she said.

Bhagyamma of Tharuru village said they freely enter temples in neighbouring villages where the people do not recognise them or identify their castes.

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