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Dalit priest in temple

The Mahavir temple in Patna is known for incorporating the traditions of other religions, reports Vijay Swaroop.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2006 02:38 IST

At a time when temples in some parts of the country are turning away devotees on the basis of caste and creed, the Mahavir temple in Patna is known for embracing diversity and incorporating the traditions of other religions. For the last few years, both Hanuman and Buddha are worshipped here. What’s more, the temple has a Dalit priest. Suryavanshi Das has been a priest here for the past nine years.

“Lord Buddha is considered the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu We are just following a 1,200-year-old tradition,” said Bihar State Religious Trust Board administrator Kishore Kunal. Every evening, the priest on duty performs aarti of Buddha.

On the presence of a Dalit priest, he said: “We believe in equality among human beings. The Ramanand sect (with which the temple is associated) has believed in and practised non-discrimination for the past 700 years.”

“I live here without fear. There are no restrictions on my coming here and all have a cordial relation with me. There was discrimination in the early days. It continued for a year or two but now there is nothing like that,” said Das.

Email Vijay Swaroop: vswaroop@hindustantimes.com