Wednesday, January 10, 2007


1. RSS Protests Restrictions On Dalits Entering Temples

NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 3, 2007: Following up on its call last year to train and appoint Dalits as priests in Hindu temples, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has severely condemned the barring of Dalits from a temple in Orissa recently. A year-end editorial in the Sangh publication Panchjarya termed as unfortunate the discriminatory attitude of temple authorities at the Jagannath temple in Kerdagarh saying it was "shameful that even in 2006 there are temples where Dalits are disallowed...Even God will desert the temple that Dalits cannot enter." The sanctum sanctorum of the temple was closed in mid-December with upper caste Hindus refusing to perform puja after three groups of Dalits, armed with a High Court order, entered the premises. The entry of Dalits into the temple put an end to a 250-year-old ban, but the upper caste Hindus immediately closed the temple down saying it had been "desecrated." The situation was later resolved by religious leader s, but deep-rooted resentment on both sides continues to simmer.

The editorial further states that after the intervention of several religious leaders, Dalits have been allowed to enter Kerdagarh temple. However, there are two paths leading up to the area from where devotees offer prayers--one for the "so-called upper castes" and one for Dalits. This, it says, is wrong and has to be amended forthwith. "There should be one path for all Hindus." Orissa temples have long been embroiled in controversies arising out of incidents of caste or communal discrimination. The Jagannath temple in Puri famously turned away the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for being married to a non-Hindu. She had to view the temple from a building across the road.



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