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Over 100 Dalits embrace Buddhism

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Organisers to hold more such conferences all over the State

More than a hundred Dalits embraced Buddhism at a Buddhist Renaissance conference in Guduvanchery on the outskirts on Sunday.

Satva of Mass Movement for Transformation, one of the organisers, said they intended to follow in the footsteps of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, who left the Hindu religion and embraced Buddhism along with a million Dalits on October 14, 1956.

“Through his writings, Dr. Ambedkar proved that we are historically Buddhists. This is an effort to redefine and rediscover our culture and identity,” he said.

The event organisers said that around 2,000 people attended the day-long event, which featured seminars and talks by various academics and intellectuals speaking on different topics.

Making it clear that their organisation was apolitical, Dr. Satva said they were planning to organise similar Buddhist conferences all over the State.

“We are not doing this because we are victims. Personally, we have not been subjected to physical violence that many Dalits undergo in India. However, we still face social boycott.

“This is an effort to move towards a better, egalitarian society through Buddhism,” he said.

Speaking on the importance of conversion, Punitha Pandian, editor, Dalit Murasu, said that conversion to Buddhism was an important way of liberation for Dalits.

“Dalits have been wrongly identified as Hindus. This is an attempt to reclaim our identity. We don’t say that it is a solution for everything: this is a fight for self-respect and dignity. Conversion gives Dalits dignity and a sense of community,” he said.

Resolutions passed

They passed a number of resolutions including removal of sub clause in Article 25, which posits Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism as a sub-sect of Hinduism, urging the Indian government to declare Bodh Gaya as a holy place, create separate commissions for minority religions instead of just a National Commission.

The organisers said the event would be held in October every year.

A participant, Sooriya Buddhamitr, said there was a lot of work to be done.

“We are already trying to build a sangha and create a sense of community amongst Buddhists,” he said.

 

Courtesy : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/over-100-dalits-embrace-buddhism/article19825057.ece

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