Hyderabad priest to carry Dalit devotee on shoulders into temple to preach equality
The plan is a re-enactment of a 2,700-year-old ritual, which comes in the wake of rising atrocities against backward caste communities and alleged dilution of a law ensuring their protection.india Updated: Apr 14, 2018 07:15 IST
Defying popular traditions, a Hindu priest in Hyderabad will carry a Dalit devotee into the temple’s sanctum sanctorum on Monday to propagate equality of humans in the wake of growing atrocities on backward caste communities across the country.
Amidst chanting of Vedic hymns and divine music, 60-year-old priest CS Rangarajan will carry Aditya Parasri, a local Dalit devotee, on his shoulders into the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Sri Ranganatha temple at Jiaguda in Hyderabad and make him perform puja at 4 pm on April 16.
The re-enactment of a 2,700-year-old ritual comes in the wake of rising atrocities against backward caste communities and alleged dilution of a law ensuring their protection.
“The programme is aimed at propagating equality of people. We want to perform the ritual coinciding with the 1000th birth anniversary celebrations of Vaishavaite saint Ramanucharya, who preached equality of human beings,” said Rangarajan, who is also the chairman of the Telangana Temples Protection Committee.
The ritual, known as “Munivahana Seva,” was first performed in Tamil Nadu when Vaishanava priest Loka Saranga carried a Paanar youth (an outcast in Tamil Nadu) on his shoulder into the Sri Ranganatha temple at Sri Rangam on the banks of Cauvery river, the priest said.
“Not many people know that the Alwars of the Vaishanava tradition also comprised Dalits and even a woman. Our Sanathana Dharma has treated everybody equally before the god,” Rangarajan said.
“The Paanar youth who was carried on his shoulders by Loka Saranga later became a staunch devotee of Lord Ranganatha and attained the name of Thiruppaan Alwar, the eleventh of the 12 Alwars, the Vaishnavaite Saints,” he added. ]
The priest regretted that though the Constitution of India had provided protection to the downtrodden sections and several legislations were made to safeguard their rights, they were still being looked down upon. This, he said, prompting people from these communities to adopt other religions to get respect.
Rangarajan also offered to provide training to Dalits in Vedic rituals so that they could be appointed as priests in all the temples.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, which manages the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, has already started conducting classes for SCs and STs in priesthood and other Vedic literature so as to make them eligible for appointment as priests in temples in their respective areas.