Udupi, Mar 05, 2018: The Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) has objected to the construction of a temple by upper castes with the same name of the deity of the daiva sthana because the latter had Dalit archaks at Kotathattu village in Udupi district.
In a memorandum submitted to Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis here on Saturday, district organising convener of DSS Manjunath Giliyar said that the Danagunda Ammamalasavari and Parivara Daiva Sthana had been in existence for centuries at Kotathattu.
Members of the Scheduled Castes had been serving as archaks at the daiva sthana and conducting prayers there for centuries.
But about four years ago, a group of upper caste devotees, who wanted to develop this daiva sthana decided that if this place of worship had to develop, then the Dalit archaks should stop worshipping the deity and instead, they wanted Brahmin archaks in their place. “They said that since the Dalit archaks were offering prayers, it had brought ‘dullness’ to the deity and the village,” he said.
But the Dalit archaks who were offering prayers to the deity for generations opposed this move. This matter reached the police station, where there were talks and the upper castes group stayed away from the activities of the daiva sthana. But the Dalit archaks and other people of the village have been offering worship and prayers at the daiva sthana for the last four years.
The upper castes group still illegally had the gold and silver ornaments and utensils of the daiva sthana with them. However, this group had purchased a land just 400 metres away from the daiva sthana and was building a temple with the same name. “This group considers it an insult to receive tirtha and prasada from the Dalit archaks. They are indulging in propaganda and telling other people to desist visiting the daiva sthana and saluting the Dalit archaks,” he said.
Hence, the district administration should take suitable action against this group which had assaulted the religious rights and dignity of the Dalits, the DSS said.
Ms. Francis told The Hindu that an enquiry had been ordered into the issue and action would be taken based on the report.