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

Allahabad: Sulabh International founder Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak has yet again lit the flame of hope for the deprived manual scavengers by performing an act he has been known for around the world. But surely, this can be said the best of all his efforts he has put-in so far to uplift the so called 'untouchables' to the same level where the 'respectable' society stands.

Mr. Pathak has made history at the ongoing Maha Kumbh here making 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.

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. 

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. 

This is not the first time that he has given shape to such wonderful act. He has already brought the backward class to the same level on a number of occassions previously as well.

Source : http://www.pardaphash.com/news/dr-bindeshwar-pathak-makes-history-at-maha-kumbh/705300.html#.URPGbB2PHzg

Posted by & filed under Articles, Delhi, Sulabh News.

My quest for knowledge particularly in the field of sanitation brought me to India in 2012 and I landed into the very able laps of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of the Sulabh International Foundation. Through interviews and conversations I have much from him about where he came from, the interaction between sanitation and social deprivation in the form of untouchability.

This year again I am here in Delhi with Sulabh who have made me part of their family and welcomed me in the engagement of the first ever national conference on sociology of sanitation that just ended. Like in many events in India, a cultural item is never left out and this time I was introduced to the story of Chandalika. It truly moved me, I hope it does the same for you.

The story is about a young girl who, like all other young girls, feels the heady surge of youth flowing through her veins and her soul reverberating with the vivacious music of life. Her heart is filled with little joys that come from simple things like having fun with her friends, buying inexpensive jewellery and eating tit bits of street food. Her dashing and young mind races to the boundaries of freedom pushing at the social barriers that have been set about her.

But, alas, she must limit her joys and her freedom only to her disobedient mind and not actually seek to see such desires reach fruition since she was born with insurmountable social and economic handicaps. She was born in an impoverished and suburban locale into a family where her parents spent all their times working to meet both ends meet and go about the basic activity of sustaining their lives.

Her parents would genuinely give her the world to play with if they could, but they have limited means with no chance whatsoever of ever changing their circumstances. To add to her woes she was born into a pathetically low caste, who were relegated since time immemorial to the horrific and dirty menial jobs.
Their ancestors walloped in the dirt and tar of their livelihoods and were shunned by the city and its people. They were untouchables who, as religious texts say, were on a par with pigs and dogs and it was but a curse of the worst sort to be born into the womb of a woman of her caste. Every time her youthful heart wanted to go out and live life in joyous abandon, she would be spitefully reminded of her caste and class.
The girl had little option but to concede to her fate and accept the religious and social hegemony that existed. Of course, it was only conceding defeat and not accepting it. Her rebellious mind refused to accept the treacherous social and religious order and she defied in her mind the powers that be.
She refused to accept a religion or a society that denied her very human identity. But then again what could a young girl do but to resign to her fate and the unquestionable power equations that far predated her small life?
It was one hot summer afternoon when she was near their local water spout filling her vessels when a young man stopped by to ask her for some water to drink. Surprised at first she realised he must not be from around here and politely informed him that she was an untouchable so he was asking for water from the wrong person.
The young man showed little reaction to her logic and said he hardly cared what caste she was. All he cared for was some water since he was very thirsty and as long as she was a human like himself, she could very well help him quench his thirst.
The man drank from her vessel and she found out he was an activist who spoke for social justice and equality. He had shunned the hegemonic religious and social order he was born into and had taken to a philosophy of life that spoke of inclusiveness and emancipation of the underclass. He spoke with ease with her and then moved on to where he was headed.
This unbridled sense of equality pushed the girl into an entirely new yet strangely familiar territory. She found the resonance of everything she had felt all her life in what the young man had told her. She found a voice to her suppressed rebellion in his politics. 
In his political vision she found the arms to fight for the liberation of her own self and those like her who. She spread the word amongst her near and dear ones, who at first thought the heat had gotten to her head, but then began to see the sense in it all.
Her new found passion fired the will of her otherwise latent compatriots who started to take steps and organise themselves. Of course, they knew that showing allegiance to the politics shown by the young man was certain to raise the wrath of the current rulers who would come down upon them like a black storm bringing ransacking their community.
The girl even wondered aloud at times if she had overdone it and pushed her community into the mouth of certain death and torture. But by then the fire had spread into their minds and they themselves saw the light and vowed to fight till victory or death. 
They were convinced that if they could work the skin off their backs to fulfil every need of those who ruled them, no matter how whimsical or fanciful the need, they could very well work hard enough to earn a life of dignity for themselves and their children in times to come.
Many supreme sacrifices later and weathering the rage of the torturous social and political tempest that mercilessly rained down upon them, they came to earn their first victory. The victory was of finding a space in the political process that ruled them. 
For this they rallied behind the young man who had first showed them the truth of what ailed them and showed them that the exploitative system was not an unquestionable truth of life but could be questioned and made answerable even to those the system claimed were far too lowly to ask questions.

What is written here is a simple paraphrasing of what Gurudev RabindranathTagore wrote in his epic Chandalika – the story of the daughter of a family of the Chandal caste; a community that is till date relegated to the horrific task of burning corpses; a community that till date bears the wounds of one of the most hellish form of social and economic oppression in our history.

Gurudev Tagore was far from the apolitical arty person that the many sections of our privileged countrymen portray him as. The elites of the culture world have filtered Gurudev's work and portrayed it in their selective ways keeping his art, which is of undeniable calibre, but sniping away at his ideology and politics so as to suit their way of life and keep the cycle of hegemony intact. 

They have used their money and influence to portray Gurudev's tunes, strokes and words as a near esoteric art to be practised only by some high priests of culture while the mere mortals may only look from afar.

The truth, however, is diametrically opposite. Gurudev learnt as much from the socially out caste Baul minstrels as much as he did from what was best in the progressive Western arts. He embraced people and their lives as his own irrespective of their caste and class in times that were even more polarised and exclusive. He travelled and read extensively and assimilated into his open mind and heart what was best from everywhere.
He spoke of all that which spoke of the need of being a just human and building a society based on love. He was unequivocal in his support for liberty and social justice espousing the true spirit of freedom that went far beyond the narrow walls of racial or nationalistic pride. It is not a mere co-incidence that he wrote the masterpiece with the protagonist as an out caste Chandal girl who is enlightened by an adherent of the Buddhist philosophy of equality.
 
Sourced from The Hindu written by SIDDHARTHYA SWAPAN ROY
 
Source : http://washfair.blogspot.in/2013/01/life-lessons-from-story-of-chandalika.html

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

 

Sociologists in the Indian Subcontinent have unanimously agreed to introduce sociology of sanitation as a new sub-discipline at the national and global level.
The Sulabh International founder, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak told the Daily News that he felt there was a need for a new sub-discipline of sociologist because of the growing interest the world is having on sanitation and benefits it has to society.
“It is my firm belief that the time has come when sanitation should be included as a discipline in sociology because of the core problems embodying sanitation,” he said.
The importance of sanitation has also trickled down to Tanzania where recently the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare started implementing a pilot project in three districts of Dodoma with funding from the Global Sanitation Fund as well as launching a national campaign last year.
Dr Pathak, the advocate for the inclusion into the discipline of sociology defined the sociology of sanitation as being a scientific study to solve the problems of society in relation to sanitation, social deprivation, water, public health, hygiene, ecology, environment, poverty, gender equality, welfare of children and empowering people for sustainable development.
Sulabh International is an Indian based social service organization which works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education and is the largest non-profit organization in India.
A national conference on sociology of sanitation just ended in Delhi where sociologist from around the country also proposed that the new sub-discipline should engage with sanitation at the theoretical, empirical and action level.
The conference recommended that the primary objective of the discipline was to achieve total elimination of open defecation (easing oneself in the open and not in toilets) and empowering of the disadvantaged communities.
It was recommended that at the pragmatic level, the use of Sulabh models and technologies would achieve ecological sanitation in affordable and efficient manner.
Others recommendations included the development of appropriate curriculum, literature and plan action, having a working group under the leadership of Dr Pathak, having a tentative syllabus and that the Indian Sociological Society should have a research committee.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Mr Pankaj Jain said during the closing of the conference that NGOs of the calibre of Sulabh International were needed to be in the forefront of promotion of sanitation.
Mr Jain said that it gravely saddened him that India was rapidly inching towards becoming a superpower with the highest levels of technological advancements, some of the best doctors yet it accounted for over 60 percent of the global population that defecate in the open.
“This is indeed a national shame. According to the current statistics, 67 percent of the rural population defecate in the open and 13 percent in the urban areas,” he said.
The Minister called for strong advocacy particularly in the rural areas saying that at least there space wasn’t so much of an issue like in the urban areas but stressed that urbanisation needed to be checked and controlled because of the increased slum areas.
Mr Jain said that the best way that sociology of sanitation as a discipline could take off is if the subject started being taught at lower levels in schools and that it should be part of the curriculum.
He said that the concept of sewerage treatment plants was still unknown to people especially those in the rural areas and urged NGOs to lend a helping hand as solid and liquid waste management was becoming a problem.

Sulabh International has been operating for over 40 years and has constructed more than 8000 public toilets at all important places in India that serve more than 15 million people every day where 200 are linked with biogas plants.

Training of its technologies have been organised for officers, engineers and architects to African countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Tanzania where currently there are 13 members from the Chadema opposition party including the wife of Dr Wilbrod Slaa undergoing training.

Sourced from the Daily News

Source : http://washfair.blogspot.in/2013/02/gears-towards-soiology-of-sanitation.html

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, Delhi, Sulabh News.

 

Founder of the Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak has added his name among the list of the few Indians who has successfully formulated a definition in the discipline of sociology.
Dr Pathak told WASH FAIR blog in an exclusive interview that history has it that most if not all definitions used in the disciplines of sociology have been formulated by foreigners and that it felt good to have come up with one for the sociology of sanitation.
“I wasn’t able to be a lecturer but I am very proud to come up with at least one definition that will be used for generations to come. I have fulfilled my dream,” he said.
Dr Pathak, the advocate for the inclusion into the discipline of sociology defined the sociology of sanitation as being a scientific study to solve the problems of society in relation to sanitation, social deprivation, water, public health, hygiene, ecology, environment, poverty, gender equality, welfare of children and empowering people for sustainable development.
He said that he regarded the completion of the just ended national conference of sociology of sanitation as having been very successful because it had started the ball rolling.
Dr Pathak cited that there were only two references so far on articles related to the sociology of sanitation in 1887 and 1896 and that having the greatest sociologists of the country to agree to follow up on his dream was a huge success.
“I am aware that more convincing is required to get most sociologists on board especially when you consider that the concept of sanitation is still very new for some professors and doctors,” he said.
In order to shed more light on sanitation, Sulabh International plans to invite at least 10 sociologists on a monthly basis to their headquarters in New Delhi where they will share their vast experience on sanitation.
Dr Pathak said that it was his conviction that once the four or six year course was introduced to colleges and universities, he had doubt that the demand would be overwhelming.
“Since 1992 Sulabh International has had a vocational training unit and since that time not a single boy or girl who has been admitted left without securing a job. This course has the advantage of employing people and also creating self employment.
He said that when Sulabh started, they were working in the dark but were still able to make a difference in society adding that there was every reason for more people to do even better things when there is an actual course for it.
 
Source : http://washfair.blogspot.in/2013/02/dr-pathak-national-conference-of.html

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, Sulabh News, West Bengal.

Sanitation engineers in the Indian subcontinent are advocating for effective public – private partners to generate demands for sanitation in the community and promotion of hygiene.

Speaking during the opening of a national seminar on community development and river pollution control in Kolkata, the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation founder, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak said that the promotion shouldn’t be left to central and local governments alone but NGOs and CBOs also had a role to play.
“A river is as clean and as healthy as the inhabitants on its bank. Installing sewerage treatment plants at the outfall will not give us the desired results for pollution control unless the cities, towns, peri-urban and rural areas are clean and free from waste dumps in its entirety,” he said.
Dr Pathak said that there was a need for an effective combination of on site sanitation and waste water disposal systems.
Sanitation engineers agreed that there was an urgent need to address issues related to pollution of water bodies not only in India but other countries as well taking into account that 1,500 cubic kilometres of waste water are produced annually globally and water as a resource is getting scarce with minimal cities being conducted to the sewerage system.
According to IWA Water Wiki website, sanitation provision in Dar es Salaam is grossly deficient, as in most cities in sub-Saharan Africa where most people do not have access to a hygienic toilet; large amounts of faecal waste are discharged to the environment without adequate treatment.
The website cites that according to 2003 World Bank statistics less than 10 percent of households have a sewerage connection; about 20 percent (mostly in upper- and middle-income groups) have septic tanks, while the remainder are dependent on pit latrines.
“The sewerage system comprises about 140 km of sewers connected to an ocean outfall or to one of nine decentralized waste water stabilization ponds. As noted, only about 10 percent of households have a sewerage connection: as at 2003, the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA) had about 22,000 sewerage customers.
Dr Pathak said that in developing countries like India, rivers and lakes were getting increasingly polluted because most water waste treatment plants were ill functioning and also due to untreated domestic sewerage loads from the urban habitats.
“The septic tank is also expensive and unaffordable for the majority of the population and they also require large volumes of water for flushing. There is a shortage of drinking water in almost all urban areas and hence water conservation is a critical issue,” he explained.
He proposed that an alternative model of management that he designed could be used which is a combination of on site excreta disposal system and decentralised flush compost toilet by using bio-gas plants and effluent treatment systems.
The West Bengal Urban Development Principal Secretary, Mr Debashis Sen said that whilst he agrees that there was a problem in the pollution of rivers in India, he advocated for a holistic approach where the interests of the communities benefiting should be taken into account.
Citing the Ganges Action Plan for the Ganges River where a programme is underway to clean it and has a target of attaining zero discharge by 2020, Mr Sen said that many people had misgivings on the programme saying that the objectives were taking too long to be met.
He said that a similar river in Singapore which was heavily polluted took 20 years to get clean and it was only possible because near dictatorship decisions were taken to resettle the people, and that such stern decisions may be difficult in India because of the level of democracy.
“The only way a solution will be found is by taking the community into confidence such that a multiple dimension is taking into finding a solution to doing away with waste water pollution,” he said.
Mr Sen said that whilst there were vast amounts of technological solutions, it was important that these solutions involved the community who are dependent on the river either through their livelihood or religious rituals.    
The organising secretary of the seminar, Eng Tarun Dutta said that there were no policies that were static and rigid and couldn’t be taken for granted for life calling on decision makers to sit and make introspection on the basis of documented achievements and failures.
Eng Dutta said that seminar was aimed at creating a platform for brainstorming exercises to carry out purposeful prognosis involving professional organisations, institutes, academicians and other experts.
 
Source : http://washfair.blogspot.in/2013/02/sanitation-engineers-tout-for-public.html?spref=fb

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

Academicians recommend that the ‘Sociology of Sanitation’ be included as a sub-subject in schools and colleges to address the complexities of the issue

When former manual scavenger Usha Choumar was “liberated” a decade ago, her only mission was to ensure that her little daughter does not get into this “dirty business”. Today she is an important functionary in Sulabh International, working in the field of sanitation, while her daughter goes to a public school with dreams of doing “something big”.

Now Usha Choumar, having walked the ramp in New York on the invitation of the United Nations, is on another mission — to see sanitation be made part of school curriculum. “Unless we make our children, particularly those living in rural areas, understand the importance of sanitation, we cannot have a nation without scavengers, which unfortunately is a curse even after so many years of Independence,” she asserts.

Last week she participated in a two-day National Conference on Sociology of Sanitation: Environmental Sanitation, Public Health and Social Deprivation where leading academicians, scholars, social activists and political leaders advocated making sanitation a part of school and college syllabus.

“The inclusion of this subject as an academic discipline will not only enlarge the scope of sociology, but also be helpful in solving the problems of society in relation to sanitation, social deprivation, water, public health, hygiene, poverty, gender equality, welfare of children and sustainable development,” says Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, which organised the conference.

Lamenting that India cannot claim the status of economic superpower till a vast majority of its population does not have access to clean toilets, Dr. Pathak, who has been behind the liberation of manual scavengers like Usha Choumar in States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, says the government should make ‘Sociology of Sanitation’ a new sub-discipline of sociology which would help children engage with sanitation at the theoretical, empirical and action level.

At the conference, it was strongly argued that existing sub-disciplines of sociology do not adequately capture and address the varied aspects, nuances and social complexities related to sanitation. Hence, a resolution was passed to approach the University Grants Commission (UGC) with the plea to include ‘Sociology of Sanitation’ as a recommended course in Sociology at graduate, pos-graduate and research levels in a graded manner.

Referring to the resolution, Dr. Pathak says it has been recommended that appropriate curriculum, literature and plan of action should be developed to achieve the goal of introducing sanitation as a sub-subject in schools and colleges. The tentative syllabus should include the definition, nature, scope and subject matter of ‘Sociology of Sanitation’ and the relation of the topic with other sub-disciplines of other social sciences and humanities. Dimensions of sanitation; policies, planning and executing agencies; and advocacy for community interventions were among other suggestions. It is also recommended that the Indian Sociological Society should be requested to begin a new research committee on Sociology of Sanitation and must promote research and teaching on sanitation at every possible level.

Talking about the future course of action in this connection, Dr. Pathak says all departments of sociology at universities, colleges and other educational institutions, including schools, would be informed about this declaration adopted at the conference, while scholars would be encouraged to write comprehensive text and reference books on ‘Sociology of Sanitation’. Similarly, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) will be approached to give priority to sanitation studies while promoting research. 

“This new subject can generate employment opportunities and hence it is compatible to the UGC norms of ‘employment generation potentiality’ for introducing a new discipline/course…We have also decided to write to all examinations boards across the country to give priority to sanitation studies so that children understands its important from the very beginning of their lives,” he adds.

As for Usha Choumar, she has undertaken the task of raising the issue of introducing ‘Sociology of Sanitation’ in school curriculum not only in India but abroad. “Now that leading sociologists feel the importance of the subject, it is time that policymakers in India and globally understand the urgency of making sanitation a subject,” she adds.

Apart from Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, the conference saw participation of Yogendra Singh, eminent sociologist and Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indian Sociological Society President Prof. Ishwar Modi, Patna University’s Professor in Sociology Dr. Hetukar Jha, Dr. Manish Thakur from IIM-Calcutta, and Prof. M.N. Karna, Emeritus Professor, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/other-states/syllabus-in-perspective/article4382623.ece

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

Allahabad, Feb 5: Kumbh mela is not just about gods and godmen. It is also about going beyond the debate and change the society and its conventions. It is also about cleaning the dirt of traditions. In this direction, Thursday (Feb 7) would be a watermark day when liberated manual scavenger women, earlier regarded as untouchables, would join top priests in performing rituals at the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati at the Kumbh Mela.

The confluence of sants and sadhus, which had rallied against controversial godman Swamy Nithyananda, is going to welcome about 100 former scavenger women from Rajsthan's Alwar and Tonk districts and give them an opportunity of taking holy dip at the Sangam and perform puja at the ongoing Kumbh Mela on February 7.

It is an effort towards social upliftment, said Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International. He has initiated this social engineering and said the former scavengers would join hands with top Hindu priests in performing the rituals.

"Not only this, they will dine with some of the top Hindu religious leaders, including followers of various sects like the Naga sadhus, at the venue later this week. We are trying to interact them with some of the top most religious leaders at the Akharas of Hindu religious sects during their stay in the Kumbh grounds," Pathak said.

According to him the Sulabh International has played a significant role in liberating untouchable scavengers from the sub-human occupation of cleaning night soil – a practice nearly 5,000 years old. He 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 faeces and shackles of untouchability.

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

Dalai Lama visit off

The much-anticipated visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the ongoing Maha Kumbh has been finally called off despite security clearance given by the Uttar Pradesh government for his two-day visit.

Senior Superintendent of Police Mohit Agrawal said, "We have received information that the Dalai Lama is pre-occupied till February 15 and, if at all, he chooses to visit the Maha Kumbh it would be only after that".

February 15 happens to be the date on which Basant Panchmi festival is falling this year when the last "shahi snan" of "naga" ascetics takes place.

Although officially the Kumbh will end on March 10, traditionally most of the 'akharas' of sadhus start packing up after Basant Panchmi itself with only some 'kalpavasi' pilgrims staying back till Magh Poornima which falls on February 25.

Earlier, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive at a "Lama Nagar" that has been built inside the camp of Vishwa Hindu Parishad at the Kumbh on February 4. But the visit was put off for want of security clearance in time.

However, the state government provided the clearance on February 3 and the Inspector General of Police, Allahabad zone, Alok Sharma, said the police would be able to make necessary security arrangements for his visit.

The organisers of his visit, the Mahabodhi Society of India, made a last-ditch effort to ensure his arrival at the Kumbh today but this could not materialise.

Source : http://news.oneindia.in/2013/02/05/kumbh-mela-scavengers-perform-puja-with-sadhus-1143096.html#slide67865

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

SANGAM (ALLAHABAD): Taking a holy dip at the Sangam during Mahakumbh is said to be liberating. Now, in the true sense of the word, a 100-odd liberated scavenger women from Rajasthan would not only take a dip at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati on Friday, they would also perform puja with seers, marking a break from age-old traditions.


Once ostracized by the society, some 100 former scavenger women from Rajsthan's Alwar and Tonk districts will be getting an atypical opportunity of taking the holy dip at Sangam and perform puja at the ongoing Kumbh Mela, something they could not dream of for centuries.

The group will arrive in the Sangam city on Tuesday by buses and stay here for two-three days near the Baghambari area. These women were rehabilitated by an NGO in 2003 and were imparted training that has enabled them join the mainstream of the society.

"It's a kind of endeavor for social upliftment," said well-known social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak, who has initiated this unique model of social engineering.

"These women will join hands with top seers and sadhus to perform the rituals on the banks of the Ganga. Not only this, they will dine with some of the top religious leaders, including followers of various sects like the Naga sadhus, on the mela campus. We are making efforts to enable them interact with mahants and mahamandleshwars at the akharas during their stay," added Pathak.

Pathak, the founder of sanitation movement — Sulabh International — said "his organisation has played a significant role in liberating untouchable scavengers from the sub-human occupation of cleaning night soil — a practice nearly 5,000 years old". "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 faeces and shackles of untouchability."

"After human scavengers were relieved of this sub-human occupation, question of their livelihood, rehabilitation and bringing them in the mainstream of the society arose. Hence we started giving them vocational education in different trades like making pappadam, noodles, pickles, stitching, tailoring, embroidery, etc., so that they could earn their livelihood and be self-reliant. The products made by them are being sold in the market, hotels and also they sell pappadam and noodles in the same homes where earlier they used to go and clean the toilets," he noted.

 
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/Born-with-shackles-liberated-at-Kumbh/articleshow/18343302.cms
 

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

इलाहाबाद। परंपरा को तोड़ते हुए सिर पर मैला ढोने की कुप्रथा से मुक्त कराई गई महिलाएं भी कुंभ मेले में संगम तट पर शीर्ष पुजारियों के साथ मिलकर पूजा अर्चना करेंगी। पूर्व में इन महिलाओं को अछूत समझा जाता था। राजस्थान के अलवर और टोंक जिलों से करीब सौ ऐसी महिलाओं को पहली बार सात फरवरी को कुंभ मेले में संगम तट पर पवित्र जल में डुबकी लगाने और पूजा अर्चना करने का मौका मिलेगा।  सामाजिक बदलाव की इस परंपरा की शुरूआत करने वाले बिंदेश्वरी पाठक ने बताया कि सामाजिक उत्थान की दिशा में यह एक प्रयास है। उन्होंने कहा कि पूर्व में सिर पर मैला ढोने की कुप्रथा का हिस्सा रही ए महिलाएं शीर्ष हिंदू पुजारियों के साथ मिलकर पूजा अर्चना करेंगी। पाठक ने बताया, ‘‘ न केवल इतना बल्कि वे कुछ शीर्ष हिंदू धार्मिक नेताओं के साथ भोजन भी करेंगी जिनमें नगा साधु भी शामिल हैं। हम कुंभ मेले में प्रवास के दौरान हिंदू धर्म के अखाड़ों के कुछ शीर्ष धार्मिक नेताओं के साथ उनकी बातचीत कराने के लिए भी प्रयास कर रहे हैं।’’ सुलभ इंटरनेशनल के संस्थापक ने कहा कि उनके संगठन ने इस कुप्रथा में लगे और अछूत समझे जाने वाले लोगों को इससे मुक्ति दिलाने के लिए महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका अदा की है। उन्होंने कहा कि यह एक ऐसी कुप्रथा थी जो करीब पांच हजार साल पुरानी थी।

Source : http://www.dastaktimes.org/?p=37911

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

इलाहाबाद।। महाकुंभ में इस बार एक परंपरा तोड़ी जाएगी। सिर पर मैला ढोने की कुप्रथा से मुक्त कराई गईं महिलाएं (इन्हें पूर्व में अछूत कहा जाता था) संगम (गंगा, यमुना और सरस्वती का मिलन स्थल) पर पुजारियों के साथ पूजा-अर्चना में शामिल होंगी।

राजस्थान के अलवर और टोंक जिले की करीब 100 ऐसी महिलाएं संगम में डुबकी लगाएंगी और सात फरवरी को कुंभ में पूजा-अर्चना करेंगी। सुलभ इंटरनैशनल के संस्थापक बिंदेश्वर पाठक ने कहा कि यह सामाजिक उन्नयन की दिशा में एक कोशिश है। उन्होंने कहा कि पूर्व में मैला ढोने वाली ये महिलाएं पूजा-अर्चना में पुजारियों का साथ देंगी।

इतना ही नहीं, वे इस हफ्ते के आखिर में कुछ शीर्ष हिंदू धार्मिक नेताओं के साथ भोजन ग्रहण करेंगी। पाठक ने कहा कि हम कुंभ मेले में प्रवास के दौरान हिंदू धर्म के अखाड़ों के कुछ शीर्ष धामिर्क नेताओं से उनकी बातचीत कराने के लिए भी प्रयास कर रहे हैं।

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source : http://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/astro/Women-scavengers-will-worship-in-Mahakumbh/astroshow/18329388.cms