Home Global Village Dalit groom sets off with his Baraat despite strict caste restrictions

Dalit groom sets off with his Baraat despite strict caste restrictions

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Dalit groom sets off with his Baraat despite strict caste restrictions
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News Analysis |

A Dalit man from western Uttar Pradesh scored a significant victory over the strict caste system when he was ‘allowed’ to take out a Wedding procession (Baraat) for his wedding through his to-be-bride’s Thakur-dominated village in Kasganj district.

The upper-caste Thakurs of the Nizampura village, who had been objecting to the procession citing ‘tradition’, ultimately relented and agreed to let it pass through their village, as the district administration negotiated between the two sides.

Now Dalits walk on the streets, celebrating with these higher markers of comfort like band baja, horses, expensive cars…And obviously all of this still causes discomfort to the upper castes,” said Dalit entrepreneur and writer Chandra Bhan Prasad.

After fighting for more than two months, in court and with the upper castes, a Dalit man finally has the permission to ride a horse and carry his marriage procession through the village.

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Sanjay Jatav and his bride-to-be Sheetal are both Dalits and the procession route he had in mind wound through Thakur-dominated areas of her village in Kasganj district. The Thakurs refused, and instead suggested the wedding be moved to an open ground close by the bride’s home, to “eliminate the need for an elaborate baraat”.

Although the Constitution outlaws the practice of’ untouchability’, discrimination persists in different forms. Dalits are often pushed into menial jobs like manual scavenging; subjected to forms of violence like rape and murder; denied access to public services; even punished for just asserting their rights.

Only a month ago, a 21-year-old Dalit man was hacked to death in Gujarat by three Kshatriya men, apparently because he owned and rode a horse. In a symbol of Dalit defiance, Pradip Rathod’s funeral procession was led by his horse, Raju.

Last April, a Dalit groom in Haryana was pushed off the horse he was riding while his family members in the wedding procession were beaten up by upper caste men. A month later, another Dalit groom was beaten up for “daring” to ride a decorated car in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh.

The upper-caste Thakurs of the Nizampura village, who had been objecting to the procession citing ‘tradition’, ultimately relented and agreed to let it pass through their village, as the district administration negotiated between the two sides.

A 2006 survey of untouchability in rural India, which studied 565 villages in 11 states, said Dalit wedding processions were banned in 47% of the villages and that a marriage procession passing through a village street was “the most severely sanctioned public activity.”

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“Once upon a time Dalits were not even allowed to walk on the upper caste streets. Now Dalits walk on the streets, celebrating with these higher markers of comfort like band baja, horses, expensive cars…And obviously all of this still causes discomfort to the upper castes,” said Dalit entrepreneur and writer Chandra Bhan Prasad.

With the ascendancy of Hindutva through the BJP, the Scheduled castes known as Dalits have witnessed a storm of violence by Saffron terrorists who mostly belong to the upper castes. It is noteworthy to mention that Hindutva was initiated by High caste Hindus in response to an assertion of rights by Lower caste Hindus. This is why many critics mainly Dalit academics term Hindutva to be an engine of Brahminist supremacy. Many Dalit activists view the Brahmin supremacy called Brahminism as their enemy and the Holy Text Manu Smriti as the religio-legal authority institutionalizing lower caste oppression.

The suicide of Dalit Ph.D. scholar Rohit Vemula over caste-based discrimination in Indian universities unleashed protests and outrage from across India and gained widespread media attention.

While anti Brahmin tendencies are also present in other castes of the religion Hinduism like the feudal caste dominated Justice Party in 1916, by Priyar E.V. Ramaswami in Tamil Nadu which gradually destroyed the monopoly of Brahmins over education and the administrative services. However Dalit activism has been the most steadfast foe of Brahmin supremacy which has led them to a path of conflict with Hindutva itself.

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That can be asserted to be the reason behind the special focus of Saffron terrorists against Dalits. While Hindutva leaders outwardly espouse anti Caste system views and call for Hindu unity, the reality has been quite the opposite. Hindutva groups especially the RSS, has been instrumental in perpetrating and protecting atrocities against Dalits which is why few Dalits are found among the Sangh Parivar ranks.

The recent Hindutva domination of India has been met up with a backlash from the Dalit community. The Una incident unleashed a massive 10-day march from Ahmedabad to Una that challenged the ascendancy of the local Hindutva powers. Previously, the suicide of Dalit Ph.D. scholar Rohit Vemula over caste-based discrimination in Indian universities unleashed protests and outrage from across India and gained widespread media attention.

Police will be stationed along the route to prevent violence, and an armed officer has been deployed to protect the bride’s family from anyone seeking revenge for the perceived affront, according to District Magistrate R.P. Singh, who is responsible for the area.


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