If Chief Minister M Siddaramayya is secular and progressive, he should bring ordinance within 24 hours and prohibit caste discrimination practised in Udupi Srikrishna temple, demanded Com. G V Sreeramareddy. He was inaugurating the indefinite dharna called by the CPI(M) state committee at Udupi on May 5. The dharna was triggered by an incident at Udupi temple on April 15 (Soura Ugadi – Solar New Year Day). Vanita Shetty - a lady college teacher – who had visited the temple and was sitting along with her friends to get served Anna Prasadam (temple lunch), was insulted by asking her to leave as she is a non-brahmin. Her husband has lodged a complaint, but no action has been taken.
Stop this illegal irreligious practice
CPI(M) has called for state-wide dharnas to mobilise support for the indefinite dharna at Udupi and put pressure on the Government. Backward Classes Awareness Forum and mass organisations are participating in the dharna. While 72 hours day and night dharna has been called at Bangalore, the state capital, 24 hours dharnas will be held at all District centres. Com. GVS challenged Pejavara Mutt Swamiji of Udupi to stop this illegal irreligious practice and invite non-brahmins and dalits for community lunches, instead of staging ‘drama’ of visit to Dalit colonies.
Pejavara Mutt Swamiji (infamous for being one of the founders of VHP) is in the forefront of communal-reactionary forces justifying twin evil practices of Panktibheda-Madesnana.
In Bangalore, Dr. G Ramakrishna inaugurated the 72 hour day & night dharna. Dr. G Ramakrishna noted in his address, that dogged resistance of mutts/temples and reluctance of Governments to stop the evil practices like Panktibheda-Madesnana, is because of the desperate attempt by ruling classes to maintain hierarchy-based caste system. However it is the duty of any democratic Government to prohibit all forms of caste discrimination in public places. He also emphasized that Government should equip itself with required authority by passing the Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill, 2013 immediately. The Bill was drafted during upsurge in the wake of killing of Anti-Superstition crusader Prof. Dabholkar.
Many progressive, democratic mass (including two Dalit) organisations are participating in the dharna. Slogans, Songs, Talks, Seminars were held at Dharna venues. Reports indicate that 24 hour dharnas are being held in most district centers.
Udupi (as also many other temples in the state) Srikrishna temple is practising caste discrimination in serving food. Separate rows (Pankti) are set up for Brahmins and non-brahmins while serving food, though the Temple collects donations in many forms from people of all castes without any ‘discrimination’. This kind of discrimination is called Panktibheda. This temple has a long legacy of discrimination.
Other forms of even more heinous and inhuman forms of caste-discrimination are practised, in many temples that lowers basic dignity of people. Most prominent of them is Madesnana. In this inhuman ritual, lower caste people roll over the left-over food after Brahmins had a feast in the temple. This ritual is supposed to cure diseases (including skin diseases!) and is a ‘thanksgiving’ to God when a wish is fulfilled.
‘Udupi Chalo’ and after
CPI(M) has been conducting a state-wide sustained social movement against these twin evil practices of Panktibheda-Madesnana for last 3 years. In December 2012, a ‘Udupi Chalo’ was organised by the Party to enter the temple and demand food to be served to all without discrimination. Over five thousand volunteers mobilised by party and other progressive social movements broke the security cordon around the temple. However police used brutal force arrested and booked criminal cases against hundreds of participants. The practice was banned by State Government reluctantly, under the pressure of the movement. However, concerned temples went to Supreme Court and obtained a stay. CPI(M) has revived the movement to take it to its logical conclusion.
May 6, 2014