Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

महाकुंभ में पेश हुई परंपरा की नई मिसाल, जानिए तस्वीरों में…

 

Source : http://www.bhaskar.com/article/UP-MK-NE-women-bathing-in-maha-kumbh-4173697-PHO.html?seq=2&HF-27=

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

संगम की रेती बृहस्पतिवार को एक नई परंपरा की साक्षी बनी। कल तक सिर पर ‘मैला ढोने’ और अछूत कही जाने वाली सौ से ज्यादा महिलाओं ने संतों, महामंडलेश्वरों, पुरोहितों के साथ बैठकर भोजन किया। सुलभ इंटरनेशनल से जुड़ीं मध्य प्रदेश, राजस्थान, दिल्ली, गुजरात आदि प्रदेशों से आई स्वच्छकार समाज की महिलाओं ने पवित्र संगम में डुबकी लगाने के बाद त्रिवेणी बांध स्थित बड़े हनुमान मंदिर में परंपरागत रूप से दर्शन-पूजन किया और महामंगल आरती में भी शामिल हुईं।

बड़े हनुमान मंदिर के व्यवस्थापक महंत आनंद गिरि की पहल पर गंगा सेना के कुंभ मेला स्थित शिविर में जुटी महिलाओं ने संतों, महामंडलेश्वरों से आशीर्वाद भी लिया। आनंद अखाड़े के आचार्य महामंडलेश्वर स्वामी गहनानंद, स्वामी बालकानंद, जगदीश्वरानंद, स्वामी राजेश्वरानंद, स्वामी राजेंद्र गिरि आदि ने कहा कि ईश्वर की दृष्टि में सभी समान हैं और संगम की रेती इसी सद्भाव, समानता, समरसता का संदेश देती है। सभी में उसी ईश्वर का अंश है, इसलिए किसी तरह का भेदभाव सभ्य समाज से ज्यादा उस सत्ता का अपमान है।

विषय प्रवर्तन करते हुए महंत आनंद गिरि ने कहा कि संगम की रेती पर समाज के अछूत कहे जाने वाले वर्ग के साथ भोजन करके संतों ने बराबरी का दर्जा और सम्मान दिया है। उन्होंने कहा कि मानवता की सेवा ही सच्ची ईश्वर सेवा है, यही कुंभ का संदेश भी है। 

संयोजक और सुलभ इंटरनेशनल के अध्यक्ष डॉ. बिंदेश्वर पाठक ने कहा कि संतों ने साथ भोजन तथा भजन का अधिकार देकर उनका आत्मबल बढ़ाया है। यह पहल समाज को नई दिशा देगी। कार्यक्रम में बड़ी संख्या में संत, पुरोहित मौजूद थे। बाद में उन्होंने अखाड़ों में भी जाकर संतों से मुलाकात की।

Source : http://www.amarujala.com/news/maha-kumbh-2013/news-mahakumbh/saints-give-unique-respect-to-marginalized-women-in-kumbh/

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

 

सिर पर मैला ढोने की प्रथा खत्म करने की मांग के बीच इस पेशे से जुड़ी रही करीब 100 महिलाओं ने संगम में पवित्र स्नान किया.

महाकुंभ में हिस्सा लेने आए श्रद्धालुओं के साथ भोजन किया और कई कार्यक्रमों में शिरकत की.

राजस्थान के अलवर और टोंक जिलों से ये महिलाएं गैर-सरकारी संगठन सुलभ इंटरनेशनल के संस्थापक बिंदेरी पाठक के प्रयासों से लायी गयी हैं.

पाठक ने कहा, ‘ऐसे कार्यक्रम आयोजित करने का मकसद प्रतिष्ठा के खिलाफ माने जाने वाले पेशे से जुड़े लोगों का सामाजिक उत्थान है.

इसका उद्देश्य समाज को यह संदेश देना भी है कि ये भी हमारे बीच के ही लोग हैं और इन्हें कतई अछूत नहीं माना जाना चाहिए.’

उन्होंने कहा कि पिछले कुछ सालों में सुलभ ने कम से कम 13 लाख लोगों को सिर पर मैला ढोने के पेशे से बाहर निकालने में मदद की है.

ये महिलाएं एक समूह में संगम तक गयीं और वहां पवित्र स्नान किया.

करीब 150 संस्कृत के विद्वान, साधु-संत और पंडित भी इन महिलाओं के साथ थे.

निरंजनी अखाड़े के स्वामी गजानंदजी महाराज, आनंद अखाड़े के गहानंद महाराज और बाघंबरी गद्दी के स्वामी आनंद गिरी सहित कई अन्य साधु-संतों ने इस प्रयास की सराहना की और इन महिलाओं को संस्कारों में हिस्सा लेने और अन्य श्रद्धालुओं के साथ भोजन करने के लिए आमंत्रित भी किया.

Source : http://www.samaylive.com/regional-news-in-hindi/uttar-pradesh-news-in-hindi/192832/garbage-pickers-women-takes-holy-dip-in-kumbh.html

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

 

Attended by many thousands, massive melas prove that Hindu religion is not as rigid as it is made out to be

Religious congregations on a huge scale, such as the Kumbh Mela, the Magh Mela and the Sagar Mela, underline the point that Hindu society is far less casteist or rigid than Hindu-baiters and proponents of identity politics make it out to be. The large number of pilgrims from all parts, who gather for holy dips in rivers and other water bodies on auspicious occasions, makes it impossible to verify the identities of bathers. Dalits, other castes and foreigners, all jostle with Brahmins for space in the sacred waters, whether at Allahabad, Ganga Sagar, Ujjain, Haridwar, Nashik, Kumbakonam, without revanchists raising a furore. The ongoing Kumbh Mela at Allahabad provides significant instances of tolerance and humanity. A Hindi news channel reported that some Muslims of the city would arrange bhandara, religious feeding, for pilgrims. This reinforces the impression that the caste and communal divide are played up for political reasons.

Mr Alok Sharma, a senior official who was involved in the preparations for the last Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahabad in 2001, observed in the course of a presentation for the lecture series, ‘Ideas that have worked', on Muslim involvement: “Kumbh Mela is definitely a religious mela. But the participation by Muslims is to the tune of 20 per cent. I was surprised to know that…  the Shahi Snan Bandwallas, 80 per cent of them were Muslims… tent-wallah labour, 60 per cent were Muslims. The shopkeepers, more than 50 percent are Muslims. I found Muslims coming from far off places, there were Muslims from Aligarh and Patna coming along with their Hindu friends to have a feel of the Mela”.

This challenges the stereotype of ghettoised Muslims, isolated from the concerns of the majority Hindus. An English daily has reported that scavengers, about a hundred former night soil carriers, all women, from Rajasthan are slated to bathe in the Sangam, and later perform puja and eat with priests in an unprecedented event. In June 2011, too, erstwhile scavengers had bathed in the Ganga at Varanasi and prayed at the fabled Kashi Vishwanath shrine. The initiative in both cases owes to Sulabh International, the NGO that makes public flush toilets. But given the robust reformist impulse within Hindu society, it is unlikely that this is the first time that untouchables have bathed in the Sangam, done puja and eaten with priests.

Spiritual leader Swami Vivekanand, who travelled widely throughout the Indian subcontinent before embarking on his visits to Japan, China and western countries, had an extremely interesting view of how the eighth century monk Adi Shankaracharya and other theists managed to combat heresies and revive Sanatan Dharma. Theists' numbers were severely depleted by mass induction into the agnostic faiths. The swami avers: “Shankaracharya and others were the great caste-makers. I cannot tell you all the wonderful things they fabricated, and some of you may resent what I have to say. But in my travels and experiences I have traced them out, and have arrived at most wonderful results. They would sometimes get hordes of Baluchis and at once make them Kshatriyas, also get hold of hordes of fishermen and make them Brahmins forthwith”. Shankaracharya had a great experience in Benares when an untouchable, from whom he recoiled, was revealed to be none other Shiv. The true meaning of Advait was thus revealed to him.

One must understand the process whereby colonial ethnography propagated the fallacy that one was born and not made a Hindu. It derived from Indologists' misconception that caste was fixed at birth. Perhaps they deliberately ignored evidence that demonstrated that Hindu society was far more fluid than they believed. Assimilation of myriad migrant groups into the social fold via thousands of work-linked jatis substantiates this fact. Anthropological Survey of India's People of India project recorded 4,635 jatis. The modern era is marked by Hinduism acquiring large numbers of Western adherents, an unceasing trend.

The  British exploited varnashram, system for categorising people in terms of disposition, actions, work, behaviour and diet, to further divisive ends by equating the Spanish and Portuguese term ‘casta' with varna. ‘Casta’, which became the English ‘caste', was deployed by Spanish conquerors in North and South America in the 17th and 18th centuries as a racist tool for grading people on the basis of colour, race, ethnicity, place of birth and lineage. Varna was a fluid classification, since people's tendencies, actions, work, conduct and diet could change.

Indicating that actions, tendencies and spiritual condition had precedence over birth, a Sanskrit verse, credited to sage Atri, stated: “By birth, all are Shudras; through tendencies, one becomes a dvij; by study of the Vedas, one becomes a vipra; and by knowing Brahma, one becomes a Brahmin”.

Refinement of being was the crux of evolution. There could be ascent or descent. Casta spurred the British, moulded by class snobbery and racism, to categorise Indians in the same fashion as the Spaniards on the basis of Manusmriti. And free India perpetuated the bias.

Source : http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/53368-caste-no-bar-at-kumbh.html

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

Kumbh Nagar (Allahabad): On the banks of Ganga and Yamuna, history was written silently and unobtrusively on Thursday when around 100 scavengers performed puja and took a holy dip at Sangam. Scavengers, termed untouchables, by the high priests of Hindu religion, were brought from Alwar and Tonk districts of Rajasthan by social reformer Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who heads the Sulabh International.

For the 100-odd “pilgrims” from Rajasthan, it was a new beginning as they stepped into the waters and after a few moments of hesitation, shouted out aloud, “Har Har Gange”.

These visitors from Rajasthan were delighted to have top priests perform the puja for them. “We have been invited for a meal with the religious leaders and for us, this is an unbelievable experience,” said Jhinu.

Dr Pathak, who is the founder of sanitation movement Sulabh International, said that his organisation had played a significant role in liberating untouchable scavengers from the sub-human occupation of cleaning night soil.

Dr Pathak said that so far Sulabh has converted 1.3 million bucket toilets into flush toilets and lakhs of scavengers have been freed from manual cleaning of human excreta and shackles of untouchability.

Sulabh has constructed more than 8,000 public toilets at important places all over the country which are being used by more than 15 million people everyday. 200 of them are linked with biogas plants.

Dr Pathak said after the human scavengers were relieved from this sub-human occupation, it was then a question of their livelihood — to rehabilitate the scavengers and to bring them in the mainstream of the society which was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi.

“We have been giving them vocational education in different trades like making pappadam, noodles, pickles, stitching, tailoring, embroidery, and facial and beauty parlour training so that they can be self-reliant,” he said.

The products made by them are being sold in the market, hotels and also in the same homes where earlier they used to go and clean the toilets,” he said.

Source : http://www.asianage.com/india/history-scripted-over-100-scavengers-take-holy-dip-175

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

 

Allahabad Thirty-three-year-old Usha from Hajuri Gait in Alwar (Rajasthan) had not known any work other than scavenging. For that matter, neither her mother, nor her in-laws and even her husband had done any other work. They belonged to the community of manual scavengers who were always kept at a distance, even their shadows were avoided.
But on Thursday, Usha and around 100 women from Alwar and Tonk districts of Rajasthan, with similar stories to tell, came to Kumbh 2013. They took a holy dip at Sangam, broke bread with sadhus, visited temples and offered prayers.
They are from the institution “Nayee Disha”, which is an initiative started by Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, an NGO working in the field of public sanitation and eradicating manual scavenging. The initiative started in 2003.
“My husband became a safai karmachari. In our community (the lowest rung among Scheduled Castes), the girls are married in houses where the number of women is more. This ensures more hands for scavenging and, hence, better living,” says Usha.
However, scavenging is now history for Usha and her fellow women. “Today, we make pickles, jute bags, papad; we learn tailoring and embroidery,” says Laxmi Nanda, who is from Tonk.
“For the first time I can see women from the lowest classes participating in rituals,” says Swami Anand Giri, the main organiser of Ganga Sena and head priest of Bade Hanuman Mandir, in whose camp the group is staying.
Founder and chief of Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak says: “We helped them get rid of scavenging by first providing hygienic flush-based latrines in the households where these women worked. Then we started their rehabilitation through Nayee Disha.”
Source : http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/outcasts-for-years-kumbh-gives-them-a-new-lease-of-life/1071314/
 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

Former conservancy workers ecstatic about mingling with seers

Breaking the shackles of tradition, around 100 women — formerly engaged in manual scavenging — on Thursday took a dip in the holy Sangam and later joined seers in performing rituals at the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela.

The women, from Rajasthan’s Alwar and Tonk districts, walked in procession to the Sangam with around 150 priests and seers, before dining with them at anakhara.

Rama Devi, 60, who was liberated in 2008 after having been engaged in manual scavenging for around 50 years, said she had a feeling of salvation after receiving blessings from the seers. “Our minds were forced to believe that God made us like this, do this work [manual scavenging]. We are hopeful that things will change. It’s like we have got mukti after this. We never thought this was possible.”

The youngest of the lot, 19-year-old Tulsi, was overjoyed after a dip. “Not even in my dreams had I imagined that we would get an opportunity like this one day. I would often look at all boys and girls going to school and wonder why I was not doing the same. But this was something we never expected.”

Tulsi travelled to Allahabad from Tonk with her mother Sampat, who hopes to get her daughter married, but in an area where manual scavenging is not practised. “I was so much in awe at the way the priests behaved with us and respected us,” said Sampat, who now stitches clothes for a living.

Sulabh International, a social service organisation that rehabilitates manual scavengers, facilitated the event in organisation with Swami Anand Giri of Bagambari Gaddi.

After providing these women with educational and vocational training, this was an effort to bring them back into mainstream society, said Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak. “The Sangam, as an epitome of equality, is where all castes and people can come together to break the chains of a tradition that has lasted ages,” he said.

Swami Anand Giri expressed the hope that the occasion would send a message to society for ending all forms of untouchability. Seers Mahamandaleshwar Gahanand Maharaj of Anandi Akhara, Maharaj Gajanand Maharaj and Jagdishwarji of Niranjani Akhara were present.

Later in the day, the women visited the various akharas and performed rituals at the Bade Hanuman Temple, located under Akbar’s Fort.

Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/breaking-dirty-shackles-they-take-a-dip-at-sangam/article4390310.ece

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

SANGAM (ALLAHABAD): The egalitarian spirit behind the Mahakumbh was on full display on Thursday as freed scavengers (night soil carriers), known as 'untouchables' for ages, took a holy dip at the Sangam, performed puja, and shared meals with top seers and saints. 



For these 100-odd women from Rajasthan's Alwar and Tonk districts, it was more than salvation when they not only performed puja, but also shared meals inside the eminent Baghabanbari Akhara of Swami Narendra Giri on the Mela campus with hundreds of religious leaders and mahants. Sanskrit scholars and sadhus from Haridwar, Varanasi and Allahabad gave them company at Sangam. 



This welcome departure from centuries old Indian tradition was a rare sight at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati. 



"It was like rebirth for me and several others when seers and Sanskrit scholars from different parts of the country joyfully accepted us as part of society," said Usha from Alwar adding, "It was an unforgettable moment as Ganga blessed us in this pious city." 



Words failed Nirala, who said, "It's difficult to explain my feelings. I've waited for this moment for years. We trekked hundreds of km for the blessings of the saints. We'll share our experience with everybody in our village." The event was the brainchild of low-cost sanitation campaign, Sulabh International's founder Bindeshwar Pathak



"Former scavengers are part of our society, and not untouchables," said Pathak, who is spearheading a crusade against manual scavenging since 1970 to remove social discriminations against those condemned to carrying away human excreta manually. 



These liberated women from Alwar and Tonk were engaged in cleaning of night soil manually till they were emancipated by Sulabh, which has now rehabilitated them by providing gainful employment. 



Mahamandeleshwar, Swami Ballanand Maharaj of Niranjani Akhara, while sharing food with the freed women scavengers, hoped that "such initiatives will help in ending untouchability". "No religion permits untouchability and seers should come forward to ensure social equality." 



Other prominent seers, including Mahamandeslwar Gahanand Maharaj of Anandi Akara, Maharaj Gajanand Maharaj and Jagdishwar ji of Niranjani Akhara and Swami Anand Giri of Bagambhari Gaddi, shared food with these women. 



The event assumes significance as it comes barely two weeks ahead of the Budget session where a bill seeking to prohibit manual scavenging is pending. "The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill can be passed in the Budget Session if Parliament exhibits its resolve to eliminate this despicable practice," rural development minister Jairam Rameshrecently said.

Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/Seers-break-bread-with-freed-women-scavengers/articleshow/18393824.cms

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

 

Kumbh Nagar (Allahabad): On the banks of Ganga and Yamuna, history was written silently and unobtrusively on Thursday when around 100 scavengers performed puja and took a holy dip at Sangam. Scavengers, termed untouchables, by the high priests of Hindu religion, were brought from Alwar and Tonk districts of Rajasthan by social reformer Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who heads the Sulabh International.

For the 100-odd “pilgrims” from Rajasthan, it was a new beginning as they stepped into the waters and after a few moments of hesitation, shouted out aloud, “Har Har Gange”.

These visitors from Rajasthan were delighted to have top priests perform the puja for them. “We have been invited for a meal with the religious leaders and for us, this is an unbelievable experience,” said Jhinu.

Dr Pathak, who is the founder of sanitation movement Sulabh International, said that his organisation had played a significant role in liberating untouchable scavengers from the sub-human occupation of cleaning night soil.

Dr Pathak said that so far Sulabh has converted 1.3 million bucket toilets into flush toilets and lakhs of scavengers have been freed from manual cleaning of human excreta and shackles of untouchability.

Sulabh has constructed more than 8,000 public toilets at important places all over the country which are being used by more than 15 million people everyday. 200 of them are linked with biogas plants.

Dr Pathak said after the human scavengers were relieved from this sub-human occupation, it was then a question of their livelihood — to rehabilitate the scavengers and to bring them in the mainstream of the society which was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi.

“We have been giving them vocational education in different trades like making pappadam, noodles, pickles, stitching, tailoring, embroidery, and facial and beauty parlour training so that they can be self-reliant,” he said.

The products made by them are being sold in the market, hotels and also in the same homes where earlier they used to go and clean the toilets,” he said.

 

Source : http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130208/news-current-affairs/article/history-scripted-over-100-scavengers-take-holy-dip

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

Allahabad, Feb 7 (IANS) Making history of sorts, the ongoing Maha Kumbh here Thursday saw 100 former scavenging women, considered "untouchable" for centuries, take a holy dip at the Sangam here and share food with top Hindu seers.

It was a kind of salvation for the former 'night-soil' carriers from Rajasthan's Alwar and Tonk districts as they dined inside the famous Baghabanbari Akhara of Swami Narendra Giri with hundreds of high caste Hindu religious leaders and mahants after a dip at the Sangam ghat.

The welcome departure from being an outcast for centuries was a rare sight at the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati – usually thronged by ash-smeared sadhus and Hindu priests.

One of the liberated scavengers, Guddi Athwal said: "It was like rebirth for low-caste women from orthodox Rajasthan when top Hindu priests and Mahamandaleshwars of the country gladly accepted us as part of the Hindu society."

The initiative was taken by social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh International, and it was probably for the first time in the history of Maha Kumbh that such an effort at social engineering was taken up.

"The reason behind such an event is social uplift and sending a message to the people that the former scavengers are part of our society and not untouchables," said Pathak, who has been since 1970 spearheading a crusade to remove social discrimination against scavengers, condemned for cleaning and carrying away human excreta manually.

Lauding the role of Sulabh in promoting sanitation, the Hindu seers pointed out that Pathak has played a significant role in liberating untouchable scavengers from their sub-human occupation – a practice nearly 5,000 years old.

Sulabh has converted 1.3 million bucket toilets into flush toilets and lakhs of scavengers have been freed from manual cleaning of human faeces, Pathak said.

The women from Alwar and Tonk were engaged in cleaning of human waste till they were emancipated by Sulabh, which has now rehabilitated them by providing gainful employment.

"This initiative will go a long way to end the practice of untouchability," said Guddi, a resident from Tonk.

Forty-year-old Usha Chamour from Alwar appreciated the gesture of top Hindu religious leaders in allowing her and others to take a holy dip at the Sangam and perform the Maha Kumbh rituals.

The former untouchables formed part of a procession with around 150 Sanskrit scholars, seers and pundits up to the Sangam ghat to perform religious rituals and later ate with them inside the camp of Swami Anand Giri.

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Gajanandji of Niranjani Akhara hoped such Sulabh initiatives would aid in ending the practice of untouchability.

Mahamandaleshwar Gahanand Maharaj of Anandi Akhara, Maharaj Gajanand and Jagdishwar-ji of Niranjani Akhara and Swami Anand Giri of Bagambhari Gaddi were among prominent Hindu seers who shared food with the liberated "untouchables".

The Sulabh initiative comes days before parliament's budget session where a bill seeking to prohibit manual scavenging is pending.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh recently said that the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill can be passed in the budget session if parliament exhibits its resolve to eliminate this despicable practice.

The Supreme Court has pulled up the central government for failing to enact the law.

According to the bill, every district magistrate has to ensure that no person within his/her jurisdiction is engaged as a manual scavenger or constructs an insanitary latrine and that manual scavengers are rehabilitated. Those employing scavengers or making insanitary latrines face jail terms of up to an year or fines up to Rs.50,000 or both.

The law also makes it mandatory for municipalities, cantonment boards and railway authorities to construct adequate number of sanitary community latrines within three years of the act coming into force.

Source : http://in.news.yahoo.com/untouchables-break-barriers-eat-hindu-seers-maha-kumbh-131403656.html