Sangh honours Valmiki seers and patrons, endorses community’s 150-yr-old annual parade

As part of its attempts to reach out to Dalits under its samajik samrasta (social inclusion) programme, the RSS and the Vishva Hindu Parishad on Wednesday honoured seers and patrons from the Valmiki samaj, particularly those involved in the annual ritual of Bhagwan Valmiki Prakotsav Shobha Yatra, a parade near the Red Fort in October that has a history of over 150 years with origins during the Mughal rule.

Politicians, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, have participated in the yatra in the recent past. PM Narendra Modi had also launched his government’s flagship programme Swachh Bharat from a Valmiki settlement seven years ago.

The event with senior functionaries from both the RSS and Valmiki samaj was held at the Jhandewalan temple next to the RSS office. This was a message to the Hindu community to let go off practices such as untouchability and caste prejudice, Sangh functionaries said. Indrajeet Nahal, a senior RSS functionary who has been handling the SC outreach programmes of the RSS for the last 10 years, said it was due to the efforts of the Sangh Parivar that at least 67 Ramleela committees across Delhi start the show only after a Valmiki and Shabri Pooja. The Sangh, as part of a recent campaign, is conducting its social inclusion meetings in ancient temples across the capital to make them central to all Hindus, he said, adding similar events have taken place recently to reach out to Ravidas samaj and followers of Goga Bhagwan.

“There is no Ram without Valmiki. The Varna system was exploited to give it a form that only divided us. SC communities are an integral part of the Hindus and there is no question of us and they. We are one, but this is an ancient practice that will take over 100 years to go away completely. We have to be patient and efforts have to be made from both sides,” he said, addressing members of the Valmiki samaj.

Kulbhushan Ahuja, head or Delhi prant of the RSS, said it was true that in smaller towns the practice of caste discrimination was still prevalent and it’s among the top priorities of the Sangh to fight it by educating the Hindu society.

Rohit Dhilod, who is part of the Valmiki Chaudhary samaj, said the community with a significant presence in Delhi as safai karamcharis was grateful to the RSS for their support, and that event was hosted in a historic temple was all the more important.”Our ancestors took up manual scavenging because they did not want to convert. They adopted practices such as pig sacrifices to protect women from Mughal invaders. As people of the samaj, we should keep away from elements such as Bhim Army while the RSS should work towards creating more awareness as every 10 days there is some occurence of caste violence,” said Sharat Sangwan, a senior office bearer of the Valmiki Chaudhary sarpanch committee.

Among the Valmiki seers who was honoured by the RSS functionaries was Surya Satish, an influential seer from Punjab, who said the Valmikis for ages have resisted religious conversions and preserved traditions.

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