//Dalits are still second class worshippers at Jagannath temple

Dalits are still second class worshippers at Jagannath temple

Orissa temple entry row far from over
Bhubaneswar: Even as the Kendrapara district administration was able to formalise the entry of Dalits into the Lord Jagannath temple at Keredagada village on January 28, a fresh petition has been filed in the High Court alleging that the Dalits were not being treated at par with the higher caste people.

Seeking the Court's intervention to ensure free entry of Dalits into the 300-year-old temple, petitioner Akshaya Mallick submitted that while the caste Hindus were having an easy entry to have darshan of the deities, those belonging to lower castes were seeing the deities from a distance of 30 ft.

Pointing out the arrangements made for the Dalits was in violation of the Court's earlier orders, the petitioner said there had been little change in the situation even after the Dalits were formally allowed to enter the shrine.

The only change in the entire process has been Dalits had been allowed to have darshan of the deities from in iron grill which had been constructed by demolishing a wall which had nine holes. The Dailts were having darshan of the deities through those holes earlier.

Dalits were only allowed to offer coconuts and no other for puja, while there were no restrictions for those belonging to the upper castes, the petitioner said.

Nearly 300 Dalit men and women had entered the temple on January 28 without any opposition from the upper castes who were earlier against the entry of Dalits.

The controversy had reached the High Court in November last when tension started building up in Keredagada and surrounding villages in the wake of the decision of the Dalits to enter the temple, and the court had ordered that all Hindus, irrespective of their caste, had the right to enter all Hindu temples.

Following the court order that was passed the order on December 5, the Dalits had entered temple on December 13, however, there was strong protest from the upper castes. An agreement was reached after the administration intervened in the matter.

KalingaTimes Correspondent