The Other Side of Hinduism
We have always been hearing about how Hinduism treats women and Dalits. How they are barred from entering temple and why there are no Dalit or women priests that is seen as fiefdom of Male Bramhan.
So when Baijayant Panda tweeted about Sebati who is the priestess at Maa Mangala temple in Salepur of his constituency, we did a search on how much prevalent it is. We found two more temples in Odisha where Denial of access to Dalits has been a rule, usually unwritten, in a number of Orissa’s countless temples. So these are really something that stands out and needs to be emulated.
In Panchubarahi temple in Odisha no men are allowed to touch the idols or enter temple premises but for the first time in close to 400 years five men were allowed inside so that the idols could be relocated. Due to rising sea level there is a fear that Satabhaya village where this village is located will be submerged. The temple also has a tradition of permitting five Dalit women priests to take care of it. Daily pujas and other preparations at the temple are taken care of by married Dalit women from the village.
Similarly The Maa Dhamarai temple in Bhadrak district is more than a typical Hindu place of worship; it goes against two trends in Orissa. The temple is not only accessible to Dalits but also has women priests — again Dalits — in a state where a patriarchal society frowns on this very concept. “Before Maa Dhamarai, there is no caste or gender discrimination. She is a woman after all,” says Rabindra Nath Majhi, who looks after the temple’s day-to-day affairs. “It is the priestesses who are allowed to perform certain rituals. Men don’t even dare look at the goddess in the dark. Only a woman can look at her from up close.
At the break of dawn every day, hundreds of Dalits as well as upper caste members from villages throng the temple as priestesses Bimali Majhi and Laxmi Behera perform the rituals, chanting hymns and making offerings to the goddess.
At this juncture where many women/dalits are fighting for entering temple, these should serve as examples that in the eye of God everyone is equal. The discrimination must stop.