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Updated January 12th, 2024 at 16:57 IST

Why PM Modi's Visit to Kalaram Temple Where Ambedkar Launched His Satyagraha for Dalits Is Historic

Housing a shrine dedicated to Lord Ram, Kalaram Temple is also known for a protest launched by BR Ambedkar in 1930, demanding entry for Dalits into the temple

Srinwanti Das
Kalaram Temple
PM Modi paid a visit to the historic Kalaram Temple located in the Panchvati area of Nashik | Image:ANI
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Nashik: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held a roadshow in Maharashtra’s Nashik. After the roadshow, PM Modi paid a visit to the historic Kalaram Temple located in the Panchvati area of Nashik. PM Modi offered prayers at the famous Kalaram temple.

PM Modi’s visit to the temple not only marks a push to his Swachhata Abhiyan, but the temple also holds a significant place in the Dalit movement in India.

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Housing an old Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Ram, Kalaram Temple is also known for a protest launched by BR Ambedkar on March 2, 1930, demanding entry for Dalits into the shrine.

Earlier, people from the Dalit community faced severe discrimination on several grounds, including being denied entry into places of worship. The Dalit movement under Ambedkar aimed to change that.

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Today’s visit of PM Modi to the Kalaram Temple can be seen as a reaffirmation and acknowledgement of the historic movement launched by Ambedkar. 

PM Modi took part in 'Swachhata Abhiyan' today at the Kalaram Temple. The PM was seen cleaning the temple compound with a mop and bucket. The PM had also appealed to everyone to carry out Swachhata activities at temples across the country.

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PM Modi took part in 'Swachhata Abhiyan' today at the Kalaram Temple | Image: ANI

Dalit Satyagraha Movement in Kalaram Temple

Known as the Kalaram Temple Entry Satyagrah, the movement to allow entry into the temple was initiated under the guidance of Ambedkar on March 2, 1930. From the next day, some 15,000 Dalit followers of Ambedkar initiated a picketing around the temple. The then Bombay Government imposed Article 144 of the Civil Procedure Code around the temple. The following month, the day of Ram Navami, Ambedkar led a procession of two hundred volunteers to the temple. While in the past Dalits had the right to pull the deity’s chariot from a certain distance of the temple, they were denied entry into the temple complex that year. Two days later, upper caste members attacked the peaceful protesters, and Dalits around the state faced hostile attacks from upper caste Hindus during the satyagraha. Despite these aggressions, the protestors remained peaceful at Ambedkar’s request. 

Known as the Kalaram Temple Entry Satyagrah, the movement to allow entry into the temple was initiated under the guidance of Ambedkar on March 2, 1930 | Image: ANI

The satyagraha went on for another three years, but the temple doors remained closed to the Dalits. In January 1933, Dr Subborayan's Temple Entry Bill was rejected by the Imperial Council. The decisions of the Bombay High Court did not help the cause of the satyagraha either. When it was mooted in April 1933 that the satyagraha be restarted, Ambedkar noted that Dalits should focus on education and politics rather than engaging in idol worship.

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After the experience of the Kalaram Temple Entry Satyagraha, Ambedkar did not participate in any other temple entry movement. While he stressed that just by being allowed into temples, the problems of the oppressed castes would not be solved, the movement can be said to have contributed to the aim of making the oppressed castes socially and politically conscious.

 

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Published January 12th, 2024 at 16:23 IST

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