Practice of Untouchability in Nepal

By now, every one of you has been familiar about the term “untouchables”. The autobiography, Growing Up Untouchable in India by Vasant Moon has provided us with the image of the condition of Mahar’s in the village called Nagpur. As I was reading the book, I reminisced about the situation of the lower caste people in Nepal who were known as the dalits. Till I read the first chapter of the book, I didn’t know that dalit was the term chosen by the group themselves. Even though I was familiar with the word from my childhood, I never knew its meaning.

In our school, we had to study about the different ethnic groups in our country and dalits were also one of them. When I first encountered with the word, I was in grade 4. I remember, we were told that the dalits were the untouchables. As I was naïve to know about the prejudice that existed in my society, I imaged that the dalits were like aliens as everyone pictured them not be touched. Later, as I became more familiar about the term, I watched some episodes of Nepali television serial which was telecasted in order to aware the people’s superstitious beliefs towards the dalits. In that serial it was clearly shown how the dalits were deprived of their rights. I still remember the scenes of that episode. In rural areas of Nepal, the dalits were considered to be the untouchables. It was said that those who would touch them were regarded as filthy, so they were discarded from the society and were not allowed to fetch water from the taps of the community. In addition, the dalit students were not allowed to sit on benches in the school. They were discriminated for being the low caste and therefore were forced to sit on the floor. Similarly, if they had meal in the restaurants, they had to wash their dishes by themselves.

Furthermore, when I was growing older, I came to know about the situation of the dalits in my country more. There was news which talked about the young dalit girls who had been kidnapped and raped. It was said that the police didn’t make any inquires to find the lost girls as they belong to the lower caste groups. Similarly, even after the repetition of such crimes, the government didn’t show any necessity to amend the laws and provide the deserved rights for the dalits. However, after the long struggle of the movement of dalits in search of human rights, they have been successful to get the equal rights as the other groups. In today’s context, the government has amended laws to eradicate untouchability from Nepal. However, there exist many villages in Nepal where the practice is still prevailed till today.

About pratibhatandukar

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