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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tirupati's Dalita Govindam

Tirupati Venkateswara Swamy visits dalits at their homes!

Named ‘Dalit Govindam’, the initiative involves Dalits in prayer rituals and ceremonies without any prejudice or cutting costs. The Lord and his entourage spend the night with the Dalit residents.

Living in abject poverty, a majority of the Dalit families here cannot afford a pilgrimage to Tirumala. Prevailing caste bias means they are not allowed into many local temples.

“The God does not discriminate and this is the message we want to convey to them. Due to poverty, most of them wait several years to make a trip for the Lord’s darshan. We introduced this programme of taking the idols of Lord Venkateshwara and his two consorts to Dalit settlements to eradicate caste discrimination and also to give them an opportunity to pray and worship to their heart’s content and take part in the traditional rituals and ceremonies which they never witness. The priests also give them ‘Vedic blessings’ which only VVIPs visiting the main temple in Tirumala normally receive,” says TTD’s Chairman B Karunakar Reddy.

The idols are kept on a platform in the middle of the ‘dalitwada’ for the rituals. To make sure that there is no hesitation among the residents, the priests go to each and every household and invite them to join the ceremony and rituals. “Three couples are selected who will join the priests in reciting the hymns and perfoming the various rituals. The ‘prasadam’ and food is also prepared with the involvement of everyone. To clear misconceptions like untouchability and segregation, the priests, TTD officials and the local residents then share the prasadam and food from the same vessels and plates,” Reddy informs.
Without being defensive about it, Karunakar Reddy says the program is also to stop the hallowing out of Hindus and Hinduism by well-funded religious converters and soul harvesters.
Pointing out that Dalits are getting alienated from the society and Hindu religion, leading to conversions, Reddy adds: “I hope this will also help bring them back into the mainstream.”
This action of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) will do infinitely more to erase caste/jati/varnam discrimination than any law or reservation system that has been in force for sixty years. I hope TTD will not only visit villages in A.P. but also visit villages all over the country - in the south, north, and northeast - and make it mission to be visible and to speak loudly and clearly that it and Lord Venkateswara doesn't condone discrimination and segregation amongst Hindus, especially against dalits and the so called untouchables. One hopes taking the lead of TTD, other temples stop their discriminating practices and that this action by TTD would take the dialogue against discrimination and segregation within Hinduism to a new level and hopefully pave the path for eliminated segregation from amongst Hindus within a generation. What a complement it would be for economic growth and material development!


Anonymous said...

Is it possible to get the priests of Puri inline ?