Dalit forced to pay money, gold for entering temple
September 6, 2016 01:00 AM NPT
By: Jagat Khadka
BAJHANG, Sept 6: Lal Bahadur Aagri of Rilu village has been forced to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 and 1 anna gold (around half gram) for entering a temple 'despite being a Dalit'.
The local community had announced that Aagri must pay the fine for 'daring to enter and roam around the Kali temple during a special five-day long worship' recently. Aagri on Monday paid the fines as he feared being kicked out of the village had he not followed the order.
“I paid the gold and money on the final day of the puja,” Aagri said. “They were telling me that I should not have gone inside the temple,” he added.
“I argued with them. I told them that Trishul and other iron items made by us are kept in the temple. We are the ones who are also used as construction workers while building temples. And we are the ones who are not let in,” Aagri further narrated.
He added that he was even manhandled for speaking 'nonsense'. “I kept on telling them that God belongs to everyone. I feared that they might not let me live in the village if I went against the community. So I had to pay the fine.”
Rilu is Aagri's ancestral village. However, he does not own a registered piece of land so far. According to the priest of the temple, Kalak Bohora, Aagri was forced to pay the fine as he had breached some rules during the special puja.
“We have a tradition of group fasting and worshiping in the temple for five days. In one hand, he is a Dalit, and the other thing was that he was drunk and was disturbing others in the temple. He was even using abusive language while arguing inside the temple,” Bohora said while trying to justify the punishment.
Bohora added that the five-day worship of goddess Kali is a special occasion and during that time Dalits cannot enter the temple. “It is only during this puja. Or else, anyone is free to enter the temple anytime. Villagers do not care about it,” he explained.
Arjun Buda, vice president of Community Police Center, meanwhile stated that the caste-based values are deep rooted in the society and people are adamant about preserving it.
“There was voice against charging him. But the locals made him pay the fine,” he said.