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Discrimination: Lambanis are prohibited to enter temples by Upper-caste Lingayats

Ayyappa Temple, Sabarimala
Ayyappa Temple, Sabarimala

Chikkamagaluru: Signs of discrimination and divide appear to be void in the world’s largest democracy, India. Though our is a secular country where all are supposed to be treated equally, but casteism doesn’t seem to leave us.

Lord Veerabhadreshwara Temple at Humnabad in Karnataka is a popular pilgrimage center serves as a ‘good’ example of this practice.

The Lingayats of this remote village, Garagadahalli in the state of Karnataka has totally barred the entry of Lambani caste (Scheduled Caste in Karnataka) to two temples since ages and the same practice is prevailing currently.

The Lingayats of the village say that blood of the Lambanis considered as impure as they belong to lower- caste and perform menial works in the village.

Lambanis sometimes, observe the rituals of the temple that is located in the hilly region of the outskirts of the village from far distance and the site is a very sad state of affair.

This practice has been prevalent since 150-200 years back despite rigorous social reformation in the 20th century.

A person from the village, has spoken to OneIndia, said. “The deity, Veerabhadreshwara was brought to this village, while our ancestors migrated to this locality. But I do not know the history of Lambani migration to this geography,” she added.

“They say, if Lambanis enter the temple then the God would curse the village of dire consequences. The village would reel under severe drought and people die for want of food.”

she also said that, around 10 years back, the Lambanis are allowed to enter into the compound of the temple (located at outskirt, not inside the village) but not inside the temple. However to the temple situated inside the village, still they are not allowed to appear even no where near the shrine.

“There is a caveat for Lambanis’ presence inside the compound of the shrine of the hilly region”.

She explained that the Lambanis should not take part in the ritual or make their presence in the compound during the ritual and when upper-caste are served with food during rituals. They can only enter in to the compound, once all the rituals and food is finished.

Lambanis were bonded labourers till 10 years back here, even as bonded labour system had been legally abolished in India in 1976. The villagers have separate plastic glass and plastic plates (or sometimes steel) to serve Lambanis food as a reward for their work apart from salary.

The Veerabhadreshwara temple that has been operating inside the village is more vigilant for socially discriminating the community. Its ill effects have been uprooting the basic foundation of our society since ages. It challenges the idea of equality and dignity for all.

Many temples around still practice casteism, discrimination and untouchability in the name of ‘ancient tradition’. it is a matter of utter disgrace that such ‘holy’ institutions follow unholy traditions.

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