Even as Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi goes on showcasing his state as a case study in development, the centuries-old evil practice of not allowing Dalits to enter temples still plagues a village in Ahmedabad district.
Around 100 Dalit families of Galsana village in Dhandhuka taluka are testimony to the backwardness that still prevails the state in many areas of social life. Upper caste members of the village do not allow them to enter the premises of village temples.
The village has five temples, including a Swaminarayan temple, and Dalits have never stepped inside any of them.
However, on February 4, four Dalit families decided to enter the premises of the Swaminarayan temple and asked for police protection for the same. They chose that day as the village had planned pran-pratishthan of Lord Swaminarayan after the reconstruction of the 22-year-old temple located in the middle of the village.
The invitations sent out for the event were the last straw for the Dalits as the temple management had made separate seating arrangements for SCs at the mass feast.
“However, on February 4, the temple authorities and villagers ensured that the temple remained closed to prevent us from entering it,” Sunil Parmar, a Dalit, said.
Swami Krishna Vallabh, the Mahant Swami of Muli Swaminarayan Temple in Surendranagar and chief organiser of the event, conceded that the event had indeed been cancelled. “We had to cancel it as the other villagers were unhappy with the idea of Dalits entering the temple,” he said.