Mayawati flays ‘anti-Dalit’ temple ritual in Karnataka

Sunday, December 12, 2010

LUCKNOW - Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has slammed an age-old temple ritual in Karnataka where people, the majority of them Dalits, roll over plantain leaves with leftovers of meals eaten by Brahmins, believing this will cure them of skin ailments.

Called the ‘urulu seve’ (roll over ritual), the tradition at the Kukke Subramanya temple in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada is said to have been followed for 400 years, according to the temple authorities.

The ritual is undertaken in the belief that it will cure people of skin ailments.

Though people from all castes, including Brahmins, perform the ritual, a majority of them are said to be Dalits and those from backward classes.

In a statement issued here Saturday, Mayawati labelled the practice as being “grossly casteist” and “against the letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution.”

“This custom of making poor Dalits roll over used leaf plates was not only “anti-Dalit” but also deserves to be abhorred.

“It was quite apparent that the objective behind the practice was only to humiliate the socially downtrodden, therefore it was high time the Karnataka government rose to the occasion to bring an end to this social evil,” the statement said.

The chief minister also shot off a letter to her Karnataka counterpart urging him to ban the practice.

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