If social harmony is accepting discrimination, I am against it

Indigenous Voice
Indigenous Voice28 Mar 2016, Monday
If social harmony is accepting discrimination, I am against it

                                                        Kangmang Naresh Rai

I was born in a village dominated by Kirat Rais in the hills of eastern Nepal. There was not a single blacksmith in our village, so my forefathers brought in a Dalit family from another village. He used to make axes, hoes, knives, plows and other agriculture equipment for us, and we used to give him a share of our crop.  

We had our own Kirat religion and culture. But we used to follow Hindu religion and culture, too. As I figure out know, our culture was dominated by Hindu culture. Beef used to be an integral part of our culture. Our ancestors used to kill cow to worship the nature god. But cow slaughtering was banned, and using beef in our cultural rituals became a myth.

We had our own Kirat religion and culture. But we used to follow Hindu religion and culture, too. As I figure out know, our culture was dominated by Hindu culture. Beef used to be an integral part of our culture. Our ancestors used to kill cow to worship the nature god. But cow slaughtering was banned, and using beef in our cultural rituals became a myth.

In Hindu culture, there is a discriminatory hierarchy. Bahuns are above all, and Dalits are at the bottom of it. Being in the middle of this hierarchy, we also used to discriminate against Dalits. Our priests (Nakchhung) would perform rituals wearing clothes tailored by Dalits. We would place sickles, knives and axes made by Dalits at the altar of our god. But we would not eat food touched by them. If they ate at our house, they would have to wash the plates by themselves.

But we also experience untouchability. Bahuns were selective about what to eat and what not to eat at our house. They would not eat rice cooked by us. But they would eat rice pudding. They would not drink black tea at our house. But they would drink milk tea. They would eat everything that was tasty, delicious and healthy. But they would not eat anything that was not tasty.

The new constitution forced upon us by the centric state is discriminatory, and is designed to treat us as second-class citizens. But we are going to accept it in the name of maintaining this so-called harmony.

The status quoists accuse the advocates of federalism and inclusive democracy, like me, for trying to stoke communal hatred in the society. They say that the Nepalis were living in harmony before identity politics began. But they forget that harmony was possible because Dalits, indigenous and marginalized communities did not raise voice against injustice done to them.

As long as Dalits and marginalized people remained silent, harmony was maintained. When they started demanding equality, they were labeled as communal and secessionists. But there is limit to everything. We have had enough of discrimination over the last 240 years. Our battle is for our identity and equality, and it is not over. The new constitution forced upon us by the centric state is discriminatory, and is designed to treat us as second-class citizens. But we are going to accept it in the name of maintaining this so-called harmony.

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