“Untouchability” in Nepal

The novel, Growing Up as Untouchables in India by Vacant Moon, describes about the untouchability custom practiced in India during the British Invasion. In the novel, Moon has described about how people in Hindu Religion are divided according to their castes and ethnicities. The Brahmins are considered to be the highest caste and the dalits are considered as the lowest caste. Their castes are divided according to their occupations that are the kind of work they perform for survival. Similarly, their rights and the opportunities are also divided according to their castes.

It would probably not be any surprise to know that this kind of caste system exists in Nepal as well. As Hinduism is the predominant religion in Nepal, the caste system is still practiced in a larger extent. In Nepal, Brahmins are the ones who read the Vedas, the holy book of Hinduism and are considered the purest people. Similarly, the Dalits are the lowest castes. Moreover, there is hierarchical caste system which defines the people’s identity and the limitations of their rights. In the cases of Dalits, they are not supposed to enter the temples and other religious places. In the past, people do not even used to drink the water touched by them. They were not allowed to go to the schools in which the higher castes people used to study. People used to call them “Achut Jat” and were considered third class citizens.

Nevertheless, the Nepalese Government has been trying to alleviate the practice of untouchability in much larger extent. They have implemented rules and regulations against these practices. Nowadays, the practices have become illegal. However, in some remote places it is still practiced. The Government has provided many extra opportunities for the so-called untouchables. They can get several incentives provided by the government these days. People are now becoming educated; as a result, these practices have been decreasing. It is a bad custom that has to be completely eradicated from the society.

As this novel is based in the untouchability practices and the reforms that have been made in India to eradicate it, I am looking forward to reading it further. While reading it I can compare how it has been similar and how it has been different from Nepal.

Digya Shrestha

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