News - Bridging the divide at the Kumbh Mela
by Life Positive
Nobody is an untouchable for Mother Ganges.
Freed women enjoying the comforting touch of the holy river The inequities of the caste system have long been a source of discomfort for all sensitive people and many reformers including Mahatma Gandhi have made substantial inroads in dissembling the institution. And yet in this vast and ancient country, change occurs slowly.
Which is why the recent initiative during the Kumbh Mela by a group of enlightened seers and sages to break bread with 100 freed women nightsoil carriers from Rajasthan’s Alwar and Tonk districts, deserves to be lauded.
These freed women took a holy dip in the sangam, performed puja and then shared meals with top seers and saints inside the eminent Baghabanbari Akhara of Swami Narendra Giri. The event was the brainchild of Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of low-cost sanitation campaign, Sulabh international. “It was like rebirth for me and others when seers and scholars from different parts of the country joyfully accepted us as part of society,” said Usha, one of the freed women from Alwar.
Said Mahamandeleshwar Swami Ballananda Maharaj of Niranjani Akhara, “No religion permits untouchability. Seers should come forward to ensure social equality.” Bindeshwar Pathak, who has been spear heading a crusade against manual scavenging since 1970 said, “Former scavengers are part of society and not untouchables.”
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