In a ‘historic’ accord, Dalits of the village are allowed to participate in Mahabharat Utsavams
The district administration on Sunday ensured a happy ending to the vexed six-decade-old issue involving the Dalit families in Pachikapallam village of Veduru Kuppam mandal of the district.
The families had been denied participation in the annual Mahabharat festivities and entry into the temple of ‘Dharmaraja’ all these years.
After a series of meetings with the festival organisers and the Dalit groups during the last one month, District Collector P.S. Pradyumna and Superintendent of Police S.V. Rajasekhar Babu made them shake hands with one another and execute an undertaking that the festivities would be organised jointly.
A festive atmosphere prevailed at the Collectorate with the gathering garlanding the officials and distributing sweets among them.
The officials termed the development as “historic.” They said it would serve as a role model for ushering in positive thinking towards putting an end to caste discrimination not only in Chittoor district but also all over India. The officials said they would personally attend the Mahabharat Utsavams in the village.
The Mahabharat festivities are usually organised during summer. The month-long events include a procession of the deities in the surrounding villages, ‘Bakasura Bandi’, ‘Agni Gundam’, and ‘Arjuna Thapasmanu’, and special pujas at the temple.
In 2016, a few Dalit youths, protesting against the discrimination, had conducted ‘Bakasura Bandi’ event themselves. Tension prevailed when the original festival organisers stopped the event, which ultimately led to people attacking one another. Officials from Chittoor rushed to the village and pacified both the groups, besides filing criminal cases against them. An agreement was executed between the two groups that the Mahabharat Utsavams would be organised jointly from 2017 onwards. However, the stalemate continued in the later months, leading to protests from the Dalit groups since March this year.
In this backdrop, Mr. Pradyumna held a series of meetings with the villagers and prompted the officials to visit Pachikapallam and prepare a report.
Mr. Rajasekhar Babu spoke to the village elders and Dalit youths, counselling them against resorting to caste discrimination.
The officials said steps would be taken to close the criminal cases against the accused after the festival.
“Based on the success of the utsavam, we will initiate measures to develop Pachikapallam through social welfare and DRDA wings. As a mark of social harmony, funds will also be released to construct roads, school buildings, and market sheds,” the Collector said.