DOLPA, March 25: Members of the Dalit community recently took a big step, entering the renowned temple of Bala Tripura Sundari Bhagwati at Tanke Danda of Tripura Sundari Municipality-1, Dolpa for the first time.
Though there are no exact dates for this temple, it is said to have been established in the 12th century. It is among the most popular religious sites of the mid-western region. It's not that Dalits had not tried to enter the temple before. But they were barred from doing so.
They have now entered the temple with the help of the Dolpa Dalit Empowerment Center (DDEC), the Center for Agriculture and Environment Development (CEAD) and some other organizations working for the welfare of Dalits.
Lila Tamata of CEAD Nepal, woman leader Kali Chalaune of the Inter-Party Women Network and Dalit leader Man Dahadur Sarki were the ones who made it possible. Dalits had always dreamt of worshipping at the temple and the dream has now come true.
They not only entered the temple but also had the Tika mark placed on their foreheads by an upper caste priest. That moment has been taken as a huge milestone in the Dalit movement. "It has boosted the confidence of Dalits," said Tamata. She further informed that it will convey a positive message to all the locals of Dolpa, where untouchability is still widespread.
According to woman leader Chalaune, it is very important to carry out such kinds of activities in order to eradicate untouchability and caste-based discrimination. "We have entered the temple but that does not mean caste-based discrimination has ended," said Haita Sarki, a local, adding, "We first need to change the attitude of so-called upper caste people."
Exercising a right assured by the constitution, a group of 22 Dalits under the leadership of Man Bahadur Sarki entered the temple. The constitution has made it a criminal offence to discriminate aginst anyone on the basis of caste.
A large number of people in Dolpa are still mistreated for being lower caste.
But these things do not come to light as reconciliation is brought about right at the village level. According to human rights activists, this, however, only gives rise to more caste-based mistreatment. So far, only two cases of discrimination have been reported to police and these also were later subjected to reconciliation.