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"Nothing wrong" if someone in Dwarka temple asks caste of devotee; raising such issues only creates "flutter"

Kumari Selja "praising" Dwarka arrangement
By Our Representative
In what may be interpreted by a section of Dalit activists as a controversial statement, Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani (independent), who happens to be vice-chairman of the Dwarkadheesh temple trust in Dwarka, has said that there is “nothing humiliating” if a teerth panda (senior priest) asks for the caste of “a devotee to find out his/her gotra (family root).”
Nathwani’s statement appears in a Facebook post following his colleague in the Rajya Sabha, Congress’ Kumari Selja, claimed in the House that she was asked her caste when she visited Dwarka.
"I am a Dalit but I am Hindu. I feel like visiting temples. I wanted to go to Dwarka temple. I have visited hundreds of temples. (I visited) Dwarka temple when I was Cabinet minister. I was asked about my caste," she said during the debate on Commitment to the Constitution.
“There is nothing wrong if someone asks the caste of a devotee. It is as innocent as asking for an introduction. Raising such issues only creates flutter”, Nathwani insisted, adding, “The controversy on the issue is therefore unnecessary.”
“It’s surprising and astonishing. With due respect to her, as vice-chairman of Dwarka Mandir Vyavasthapan Samiti, I would state that I have not come across any such incident where a devotee has felt insulted”, Nathwani, who is group president of corporate affairs at Reliance Industries Ltd, said.
Justifying the teerth panda asking about the caste of a devotee, Nathwani said, this is like “we have family doctors, family lawyers, etc. in modern days, having family priests is also a tradition among Hindu families.”
Kumari Selja, Narimal Nathwani
“Pandas have records of their clients’ generations of certain castes on which they have the right of ‘dakshina’ (remuneration of Brahmin for performing pooja, etc.)”, he said.
“Even if one panda attends to a client of other caste, he will pass on the 'dakshina' to the Panda who holds the right. This is a normal practice at all major Hindu shrines and pilgrim places”, Nathwani said.
Further seeking putting things on “record”, Nathwani said, “I feel, it will be appropriate to present what Selja Kumari actually put on record during her visit to Dwarka on February 22, 2013. She, in fact, praised and lauded Dwarka if what she wrote in the visitor’s book in her own handwriting is any clue.”
"With Lord Krishna’s Blessings, had a very good darshan. The upkeep and maintenance of the premises is excellent. May the Lord bless all those who are fortunate enough to come here for His blessings", Nathwani quotes Shelja as saying.
Reiterating that asking for caste is "never intended to humiliate or insult someone" and it is "customary and certainly not derogatory”, Nathwani regrets, Selja "doesn't know the difference between a panda and Dwarkadheesh Temple." He contends, "If she goes to any such temple in India, certainly she will be asked same question by panda for her gotra for right puja.”
It may be recalled that, till nearly one-and-a-half decades ago, there was a practice to ask for the caste of a person entering into Dwarka town territory. The practice was, however, discontinued after attention was drawn about to a senior Gujarat government bureaucrat, Atanu Chakravartty, who was in charge of the state tourism department.

Comments

Anonymous said…
As long as she is treated fairly she should not raise concern if someone asked about her caste unless she have inferiority feeling in declaring her caste. She must have declared her caste to get Government benefits so what is hesitation here.

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