Rajasthan: Dalit teacher suspended for refusing to garland Saraswati portrait

According to the Dalit teacher, Goddess Saraswati contributed nothing to school and education and she insisted on garlanding potrait of Savitribhai Phule instead

A government school teacher belonging to the Dalit community, posted in Rajasthan’s Baran district, was suspended for allegedly refusing to garland portrait of goddess Saraswati during the Republic Day celebrations.

Primary school teacher Hemlata Bairwa was suspended on February 23 following an order by Rajasthan education minister Madan Dilawar, officials said.

What happened?

On January 26, Hemlata Bairwa posted at the government primary school at Lakdai village in Kishanganj area of Baran district was asked to garland the portrait of Goddess Saraswati.

MS Education Academy

However, Bairwa, being a Dalit, refused the order and insisted on garlanding the portrait of Savitribai Phule.

Saraswati is considered the goddess of education in Hinduism.

Saraswati Savitribai Phule strived to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender. She along with her husband started the first school for girls in 1848 in Pune.

‘Religious sentiments hurt’

According to the Dalit teacher, goddess Saraswati contributed nothing to school and education and urged on garlanding Phule who pioneered the cause of education for the oppressed.

The teacher’s statements led to a dispute with the local villagers who demanded that she garland the goddess’s portrait.

“The teacher could have averted the controversy and allowed the Republic Day function to go on smoothly, simply by agreeing to the locals and placing garlanding Saraswati’s picture, but instead she hurt the sentiments and provoked the locals,” said Baran district education (elementary) officer Piyush Kumar Sharma.

Education minister orders suspension

Addressing a public gathering during his tour in the Kishanganj area in Baran district on February 22, state Rajasthan education minister Madan Dilawar said, “Some people give weightage to themselves so much, their ‘chaal’ (working style) is not yet gone and they ask what is the contribution of goddess Saraswati in schools. Whoever has said so in this area, I suspend him/her.”

A day after the minister’s public announcement, the district education (elementary) officer issued the order for suspension for Hemlata Bairwa.

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