On the 132nd birth anniversary on April 14 of the famous social reformer and architect of India's constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar, thousands of people from Dalit communities in the western Indian state of Gujarat converted to the Buddhism at the Ram Katha Maidan in the capital of Gujarat. Gandhinagar. According to local media, up to 50 Dalits and tribal community members took part in the conversion ceremony and joined a march to honor Dr Ambedkar's birthday.
Dr. Ambedkar started the Dalit Buddhist movement by taking refuge in the Triple Gem alongside other thousands of other Dalits in Nagpur, Maharashtra on October 14, 1956. Since that day, several thousand Dalits have embraced Buddhism at different occasions, in acts of history. commemoration and defiance of the caste-based hierarchy of traditional Hindu society.
Venerable Pragya Ratna of the Greater Ashoka Buddh Vihar in the city of Porbandar presided over the event and administered the conversion ceremony. The rally was organized by the Swayam Sainik Dal (SSD), a voluntary organization established by 50 like-minded Dalit social workers in Rajkot in 2006.
“While (hundreds of thousands) of people attended the rally, hundreds embraced Buddhism at our rally,” said SSD leader Ashvin Parmar. “While some of them have already submitted applications to the respective district collection office to legalize their conversion, the others will do the same soon. » (The new Indian Express)
Those who embraced Buddhism on April 14 took the same 22 vows made by Dr Ambedkar. These vows effectively require the individual accepting Buddhism to reject all religions associated with Hinduism.
“I want to embrace Buddhism since I want a caste-free society,” said SSD volunteer Jaysukh, who embraced Buddhism at the event. “Buddhism is a religion that speaks of equality and does not discriminate against human beings. And that's why I decided to convert to Buddhism. (The Indian Express)
“I didn't get a job on (a) contract three times. I have been interviewed on all occasions and it has gone very well. However, I didn't get the job after the interviewer found out my caste,” said Jaysukh, who only gave his first name. (The Indian Express)
Shailesh Chauhan, another SSD volunteer converted to Buddhism, has a nursing degree and is in charge of the operating room at a private hospital. Chauhan said he made the decision to devote himself to Buddhism because he wanted to live in a society free from discrimination.
"I've been discriminated against (on) many occasions," Chauhan observed. “Before becoming a nurse, I worked in a brickyard. And there, I was not allowed to drink water from a common pot. (The Indian Express)
Urvashi Rathod, a resident of Ahmedabad who also became a Buddhist during the ceremony, shared her own perspective: “We are converting to Buddhism today to embrace (the) culture of equality and brotherhood. In Hinduism, with every step we are reminded of our caste. We want to avoid it. (The Indian Express)
According to Parmar, many people want to convert to Buddhism and have already petitioned their respective district offices to have their religious conversions recognized as lawful.
There is a long tradition of religious conversion in Gujarat. According to converts, who have shared their experiences with local media, Dalit boys in the state are still not allowed to ride horses or grow mustaches due to their "lower" caste. Many therefore decided to abandon Hinduism in order to avoid further humiliation.