You are on page 1of 48





Many people and institutions have contributed to bringing this research report in this form. First I would like to thank Social Inclusion Research Fund (SIRF), SNV, Nepal, for providing me Apprenticeship Research Grants that gave a golden opportunity to involve in research activity. Also thanks to SIRF for organizing Research Methodology Workshop for encouraging and empowering me in research. I am grateful to Sita Ranamagar, Social Inclusion Research Associate for providing generous official help and suggestion to my research. I owe a debt of gratitude to the resource persons of Research Methodology Workshop organized by SNV and faculties of Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuwan University, Kirtipur, Prof. Kailash Nath Pyakuryal, Prof. Dilli Ram Dahal, Dr. Padam Lal Devkota, Dr. Krishna Bahadur Bhattachan, Phanindreswar Poudel, Dr. Kiran Dutta Upadhaya, Dr. Tulsi Ram Pandey, Laya Prasad Uprety, Bhanu timilsina, Dr Prakash Yadav and Hira Bishwakarma for providing invaluable insights about research methodology. I have a special place in my heart for my supervisor Dr. Ram Bahadur Chhetri, Head of Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuwan University, Kirtipur, who not only supervised but continuously inspired and strengthened me and provided affectionate environment. This research report would not have come in this form had not been his invaluable suggestions and comments. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the lovely Dalits in Pokhara who shared their knowledge and experience and provided homely environment for my stay with them at any time in spite of their busy time. I could not present a long list of name of the Dalits who assisted my fieldwork but, I have a special thank to Surendra Pariyar, Raju Pariyar, Laxman Nepali and Bhim Gandharwa who provided suggestions regarding fieldwork and helped me get familiarity with the Dalits of their respective settlements.

Abstract This study examines the relevance and usefulness of Sanskritization to study the sociocultural changes among Dalits who are considered as having non-Sanskritic and polluting traditions. For centuries, the life of these people has been dictated by the higher castes and the people are forced to accept the traditions imposed by them that have low social and ritual status. As a result, they have been victim of untouchability and have miserable economic, educational and political condition. However, the introduction of new legal code in 1963 and democracy in 1990 opened the door to reform their traditions and question to the caste hierarchy and privileges of the higher castes and that has been again fueled by April movement 2006. The study describes the theories on caste and Sanskritization and also presents the empirical studies on it. Then, it turns to the data on socio-cultural status and changes especially on Sanskritization of Dalits in Pokhara, the city which was the research site. The information was collected from the four Dalit settlements of Pokhara by the fieldwork of four months; November, December, January and February of 2006/2007 using anthropological methods such as observation and key informant interviews. The information was then, interpreted and analyzed critically drawing up on the framework of Sanskritization and caste relations between the Dalits and higher castes. The study found that the socio-cultural changes of Dalits are not Sanskritization as described by Srinivas, the profounder of the theory, mainly due to three reasons; first, the traditions and practices Dalits are adopting are not true Sanskritic as defined by Sanskritic sculptures. Although they perform the rites and rituals of higher castes they do not follow the Sanskritic process. Second, Dalits do not favor caste system, instead, are searching egalitarian, non-Brahmanic society where the status is not determined by ones ritual merits and the caste. And third, Sanskritization, according to Srinivas, requires a group involvement not an individual and the Sanskritizing caste must claim high castes, and must achieve higher status, which do not seem to be present among Dalits. The socio-cultural change that has been widespread and necessary phenomenon among Dalits, is undergoing in two ways; one, reformation process in which adoption of new cultural practices along with the rejection of their own practices which were considered as having low social prestige have been prominent, and another, acquisition of rights in which they are accepting everything enjoyed by other castes that had been forbidden to them earlier. And, these two processes can be considered as the expression of the dissatisfaction of the caste system and hierarchy that gives the higher status and power to the higher castes. The conventional notion of hierarchy and ritual status in caste system has been ignored by Dalits and they have sought new form of power based on economy, education and politics rather than ritual. Hence to sum up, the present socio-cultural changes among Dalits, although seems to be Sanskritization of them, actually it is not so as described by Srinivas but it is the question to the caste system and hierarchy.

Table of Contents
Chapter I: Introduction 1.1 Background 1.2 Statement of the problem 1.3 Objectives Chapter II: Literature Review: Caste and Sanskritization 2.1 Caste 2.2 Sanskritization Chapter III: Research Methods 3.1 Personal Interest to Research 3.2 Research Area 3.3 Types of Data 3.4 Methods of Data Collection 3.4.1 Observation 3.4.2 Key Informant Interview 3.5 Validity 3.6 Method of Data Analysis 3.7 Limitation of the Study Chapter IV: General Background of the people of Study Area 4.1 Pokhareli Dalits 4.2 Socio-economic Condition of Dalits 4.3 Hierarchy and Decreasing Caste Rigidity 4.4 Broken Patron-client Relationship 4.5 Increasing Religious Performance Chapter V: Sanskritization and Caste Opposition 5.1 Socio-cultural Reformation 5.1.1 Adoption Religious Adoption Involvement in Various Worships and Plantation of Tulasi Dalit Temple and Priest Fasting Ritual Adoption Bratabhandha Encouragement in Temple and Arranged Marriage 5.1.2 Rejection Rejection of Food Rejection of Traditional Occupation Rejection of Caste based Discrimination Rejection on Hinduism 5.2 Assertion 5.2.1 Temple Entrance 5.2.2 Use of Thar as surname 5.2.3 Claim of High Caste Origin Chapter VI: Conclusion Bibliography Appendix 4 1-5 1 3 5 6-14 6 9 15-19 15 16 17 17 17 18 18 18 19 20-25 20 20 21 23 24 26-45 27 29

30 31 34 36 36 37 37 38 40 41 42 42 43 43 45 46


The concept 'Sanskritization' has been used by various sociologists and anthropologists to study the social change in caste societies especially in India and Nepal. Although there are enough studies in India, only a few scholars (Prayag Raj Sharma, Collin Rosser) have used the concept to study social change and mobility in Nepal. Simply, it is a process by which a low caste attempts to rise to a higher caste by adopting the life of the higher caste. The term, for the first time, is defined by M.N Srinivas in his book "Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India as thus;
The caste system is far from a rigid system in which the position of each component caste is fixed for all time. Movement has always been possible, and especially so in the middle regions of the hierarchy. A low caste was able, in a generation or two, to rise to a higher position in the hierarchy by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, and by Sanskritizing its rituals and pantheon. In short, it took over, as far as possible, the customs, rites, and beliefs of the Brahmins, and the adoption of the Brahminic way of life by a low caste seems to have been frequent, though theoretically forbidden. This process has been called "Sanskritization" in this book, in preference to "Brahminization", as certain Vedic rites are confined to the Brahmins and the two other twice-born" castes (Srinivas, 1952).

According to this definition it was only the Brahmins who were imitated by lower caste to Sanskritize their life. Later he found that it was not the Brahmin but the dominant caste of the region was imitated by the lower castes. This fact made him revise his earlier definition of Sanskritization as " the process by which a low Hindu or tribal or other group changes its customs, rituals, ideology and way of life in the direction of high, and frequently, the twice-born caste (Srinivas, 1956). Srinivas has pointed three essential characteristics of Sanskritization: first, it is a group process which does not apply to an individual; second, it needs a number of generations before it is successfully completed; and third, it seems to be a process that has never worked for the untouchables who are below the ritual barrier of pollution. Several factors influence the process of Sanskritization such as economic betterment, the acquisition of political power, education, leadership, and a desire to move up in the hierarchy, are all relevant factors in Sanskritization, and each case of Sanskritization may show all or some of these factors mixed up in different measures (Srinivas, 1956). It is clear that the term is used to explain the integration of the Coorgs into Indian society as a social and cultural change through a process of adoption of various Sansktitic beliefs and practices. The Coorgs attempted to raise their caste status by following the way of life of Brahmins as defined by Sanskritic sculptures. Thus, Sanskritization is used by a low caste or group as a means to achieve a higher social and ritual status in caste hierarchy. The foundation of Hindu society is caste system, which divides the society into four strata in hierarchical basis. Each caste in the hierarchy is allocated a separate function and ritual 5

status based on the principle of purity and pollution. A higher caste is always considered as pure and having high ritual status in relation to a lower caste. The occupation, ritual, diet, traditions, customs and practices of the castes are governed by the principle of purity and pollution. Generally the caste occupying the top position in the hierarchy are more Sanskritized than the caste in the middle regions of the hierarchy, and this has been responsible for the Sanskritization of the lower castes (Srinivas, 1956). Not only the differences in the status in the caste hierarchy are present but also the system of untouchability. Dalits, the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy are treated as an untouchable that is their touch (water and food) is not accepted by the higher castes. Thus, the culture of Dalits is considered as non-Sanskritic-not as defined by the sanskritic sculptures, whereas the culture of Brahmins or twice-born castes is considered as Sanskritic. The low social and ritual status of Dalits is the consequence of their nonSanskritic culture such as consumption of pork, beef and alcohol, dumping carcass, low ritual observance, etc. Hence, according to Srinivas, Dalits try to emulate the culture of the high caste to rise to a high position in expense of their non-Sanskritic culture. However, in case of Dalits, this way of acquiring higher position is much more difficult. It is due the Hindu laws that strictly forbid Dalits or any other castes to go out of their caste rules and the hostile attitudes of the high caste people towards Dalits. In addition, the punishment was more severe for Dalits than for any other castes. Nonetheless, at present, it seems that the Dalits in Pokhara are incorporating some of the Sanskritic traditions and discarding their own which are non-Sanskritic. Building temples and its worship, temple entrance, fasting, working as priest have been increasing. Similarly, dumping carcass, consumption of beef, alcohol and dead animals are being discarded. Religiosity among Dalits has been dramatically increased in recent years. So there is need to study that the caste activities like this, can be studied under the concept Sanskritization or under any other framework. The constitution of 1990 had undermined the legitimacy of the caste system and provided the opportunity with the institutional means to challenge their subordinate status. April movement 2006 and various announcements of government that follow have created new hope and potentiality among the Dalits. The political parties and the government have committed to include all the marginalized groups including Dalits in every structure of nation and the parties. Dalit issues have been become biggest agendas for all, from government officials to politicians, from journalists to NGO/ INGO holders, and from intellectuals to laymen. Similarly, the horizon of economic opportunities of Dalits has been widened from their traditional occupations. The capitalization and liberalization of the economy has reduced the interrelationship of occupation and caste system, which have created a new ground for the analysis of castes relations. In this connection, Dalits are searching new identity breaking the traditional values and principles of caste hierarchy, and equal opportunity in state formation through various castes associations such as mother's groups, caste committees, as sister wings of political party etc, in an organized way. Hence, these recent changes in caste societies have to be studied in a greater length. 1.2 Statement of the Problem Various anthropologists and sociologists (Staal, Carroll, Lee and Rajoo, Bista, Marroit and Singer) have questioned the usefulness of the concept Sanskritization to study the

caste societies. They point out that the theory itself is faulty and is misleading the researcher. Staal (1963) argues that the concept Sanskritization as a complex concept or as a class of concepts is misleading since its relationship to the term sanskrit is extremely complicated. He found that Sanskritization covered the cases where influence of Sanskrit and the amount of Sanskrit material decrease. Similarly Carroll questions the relevance of Sanskritization arguing that 'the concept is not only irrelevant as employed in regard to the association of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, but also that the concept itself is faulty and that it's uncritical application forces upon historical material interpretation at variance with empirical evidence (Carroll, 1977). Srinivas himself confesses that the term is awkward and is to be handled more carefully. He notes that the term should be quickly discarded if better concept is discovered. He says 'it is necessary to underline the fact that Sanskritization is an extremely complex and heterogeneous concept, it is even possible that it would be more profitable to treat it as a bundle of concepts. The important thing to remember is that it is only name for a widespread social and cultural process and our main task is to understand the nature of these processes. The moment it is discovered that the term is more a hindrance than a help in analysis, it should be discarded quickly, and without regret (Srinivas, 1952). However, the attempt here is not to question the significance of the concept in its theoretical foundation, but to look whether it is relevant in present Nepalese society. Nepalese anthropologists and sociologists, however, do not object the concept but suspect the relevance in present Nepalese society which is primarily influenced by modernization. Prayaj Raj Sharma argues that 'Sanskritization in a traditional sense is unlikely to exert influence in Nepal in the future and its place will be likely be taken by Westernization of modernization. In the new situation, newer symbols of status would be created by the upper-class families in the urban centers which would set the pace for emulation by new aspiration to social ascendancy. But ethnicity in any new adjustment is likely to endure as the stigma attached to non-Hindu custom will disappear with new forms of socialization' (Sharma, 2004). It is not unreasonable to think that the relevance of Sanskritization is decreasing since the caste system along with ritual hierarchy is getting less significance in modern time. And at present, the caste system and hierarchy have been strongly attacked by various institutions including the lower castes that are supposed to Sanskritize. However, A M Shah still accepts the relevance of the concept assuming that not only the higher caste but also the non-caste institutions are playing powerful agent of Sanskritization although caste institutions are getting less hold in society. He opines that 'one of the major changes in the caste system in modern time is gradual decline in the concern for ritual hierarchy of castes. This change is accompanied by gradual disassociation of Sanskritization from the does not mean, however, that this disassociation is complete, or that the process of Sanskritization itself is on the decline. On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly important though in different ways' (Shah, 2005). On contrary, Dor Bahadur Bista (2000) rejects the significance of Sanskritization since it ignores the oppression and exploitation of the lower castes, and thus provides new concept Brahminism (Bahunbad). He argues that ' Sanskritization is too broad to shed any light on the myriad kinds of dynamic changes that go on, and that the concept is too Brahmino-centric that hides the real situation of internal colonialism. Thus Bahunism is used as its counter analytical concept. 7

But the question remains still unanswerable that whether the concept Sanskritization can be applied to Dalits (untouchables) who are below the pollution barrier. And equally important question is; even if Sanskritization occurred, can they achieve higher social and ritual status in the hierarchy? Can they occupy higher position in caste hierarchy? Srinivas found that Sanskritization never worked for untouchables (quoted in Lynch, 1969) because of the ritual barrier and, thus they can not achieve higher position in caste hierarchy. However, he adds, ' The fact that Sanskritization does not help the untouchable to move up does not, however, make Sanskritization any less popular. All over India there are discernible movements more or less strong among untouchables, to discard the consumption of carcass beef, domestic pork and toddy, and to adopt Sanskritic custom, beliefs, and deities. It is very likely that in the next twenty or thirty years the culture of untouchables all over the country will have undergone profound changes. Some of them may become even more sanskritized than many Shudra castes. The constitution has abolished the untouchability and practical steps are being taken to implement the legal abolition. One naturally wonders what position untouchables will have in the Hindu society of the future (Srinivas, 1956). Nonetheless, Dalits in Pokhara have been busy engaging in the imitation of Brahmanic traditions, such as temple entrance, temple building, fasting, worshipping, avoidance of pork and beef etc for the few years especially after the reintroduction of democracy in 1990. Various announcements of the parliament after April movement 2006, such as secular state, elimination of untouchability, inclusive democracy have drastically created new potentiality for the mobility and upliftment of the Dalits, and interaction among the castes. They are now raising voices for the proportional representation in the constituent assembly for making new constitution that ensures their rights. In this situation, it is reasonable to study whether Sanskritization is undergoing or new form of it or any other concept can address the such caste activities. And, there is a need to analyze whether the caste activities such as, fasting, temple building, non-alcoholism and vegetarianism etc among Dalits, are due to the influence of Sanskritic Hinduism or due to other reasons. Carroll (1977) found in India that the agitation for teetotalism had very little to do with Sanskritic Hinduism but more with the influence of English temperance advocates upon the attitudes of young, English- educated Indians. Similarly their age-long oppression and exploitation has been strongly questioned and opposed recently. Government and the political parties have committed, at least orally, to remove caste discriminations, and thus ensure equal participation of Dalits in every structure of the state. Due to this reason, Dalits are actively destroying barriers of caste, that discriminate them which is manifested in various activities, one may be Sanskritization. Therefore, my assumption is that Sanskritization is occurring among Dalits as an expression of dissatisfaction of caste system and in favor of egalitarian society. Hence based on the available literature and my own experience, I attempted to answer the question; are the present caste activities and socio-cultural changes of Dalits Sanskritization? 1.3 Objectives of the study The objective of the study is to examine the usefulness and relevance of the concept Sanskritization to address the present caste activities and socio-cultural changes among Dalits.

CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW: CASTE AND SANSKRITIZATION The process of Sanskritization as defined by Srinivas, undergoes only in caste societies and is related with the caste system because the differential prestige and power of castes inspires people undergo it. Hence, in this chapter, theories of castes will be discussed and attempt to relate these theories with Sanskitization will be made. Theories and empirical studies on Sanskritization will be discussed with reference to India in general and to Nepal in particular and will be linked to the Dalits. 2.1 Caste The word caste is derived from a Latin word Casta meaning pure, and is first used by Portuguese to denote the Indian social stratification as they thought that the system was intended to preserve purity in blood. This word can be used as a variety of ways-as noun to denote an abstract principle or to designate a particular kind of social group, and as an adjective to the quality of this principle or the character of the group. Social scientists especially who have studied caste system pose basically two views about its definition; one, that the caste system is to be defined in terms of its Hindu attributes and rationale and, therefore is unique to India or at least to south Asia; and the other, that the caste system is to be defined in terms of structural features which are found not only in India but in a number of other societies as well. Similarly there are major two theories about explaining the origin and function of caste system; one is functional or idealist and the other structural or Marxist. Functional theories treat caste system as a cultural and religious essence, and assume that it is a useful institution and it does not change, and also that it adapts itself to meet the challenges and experience of a variety of situation. According to these theories caste is a cultural construct, the product of religious ideas: castes are higher or lower in relation to religiously conceived notion of purity and impurity. Whereas structural theories analyses caste system from a Marxist point of view and look at the origin or evolution of caste from the point of economic relations. These theories consider that the exploitation of the low caste and the prevention of the formation of classes as the two main feature of the caste system (Melcher, 1974; Quoted in Sharma, 1994). Thus caste is in fact, a system of class relations, and at the same time its functioning idiom does not allow it to operate as a class system. Hence, caste is simply rationalization of base inequality. High castes are generally wealthier than low caste: therefore the idiom of purity and impurity through which caste differences are expressed must be simply a means of legitimizing and obscuring the true nature of social division. Nepalese Dalits intelligentsias posit Marxist view of origin and evolution of caste system that caste system is made to fulfill the interests of the higher castes to monopolize resources and power of the state. Ahuti, a prominent Nepali Dalit litterateur argues that caste system was originated during age of slavery and has base on feudal Hindu religion that heavily exploits and oppresses the millions of people in south Asia (Ahuti, 2004). Similarly, Indian Dalit leader Ambedkar defined caste as close class. He argued that the caste system was not imposed on society by Brahmins; instead it evolved because Brahmins were imitated by other social groups which also opted for endogamy (Jaffrelot,

2005). Ambedkar considered caste not only the division of labor but also the division laborers and proposed the theory of graded inequality. Bougle defines caste system as a system which divides the whole society into a large number of hereditary groups, distinguished from one another and connected together by three characteristics: separation, division and hierarchy. Separation in matters of marriage and contact, whether direct or indirect; division in matters of labor, each group having a profession from which their members can depart only in certain limits, and hierarchy in matters of status which ranks the group as relatively superior or inferior to one another. Louis Dumont (1980) characterizes there are three features of caste system; separation, interdependence and hierarchy: separation in matter of marriage and contact, whether direct or indirect; interdependence such that each group has in theory or by tradition, a profession from which its members can depart only within certain limits; hierarchy which ranks the groups as relatively superior or inferior to one another. And another, the opposition between pure and impure is sustained by the secular power which characterizes Hindu society. Dumont looks caste system as self-reproducing phenomenon and advocates its stability. Srinivas (1952) defines castes from religious point of view. He argues that the concept of purity and pollution governs relations between different castes and this concept is absolutely fundamental to the caste system, and along with the concepts of karma and dharma it contributes to make caste the unique institution it is. He proposes the necessity of religious values in caste system that centre in the idea of purity and pollution among the Hindus. By this definition it can be assumed that the Dalits of Nepal have polluted cultures and hence have low ritual status that resulted low social, economic and political status. Hence, Srinivas suggests the process of Sanskritization to remove impurity or to minimize it. There is debate among social scientists that whether caste system is only the characteristics of India or it is the characteristics of all societies. In this regard, Berreman (1972) defines caste system that applies to all societies as; ''Caste is ranked endogamous division of society in which membership is hereditary and permanent. He adds that caste is recognized as group; they are in some ways interdependent, barriers to free social intercourse exist between castes: there are cultural differences between castes; there are different degrees of power and privilege between castes". In India, castes are generally divided into five major hierarchically ranked groupings. The top four of these are the four Varna or categories described by Manu, the Hindu lawgiver, comprising the three twice-born (Brahmins, Kshetriya and Vaishya) and the Shudra. At the bottom, outside the Varna system are the Untouchables. But in Nepal, castes are generally divided into four major hierarchically ranked groupings, Brahmins at the top, then Kshetriyas and Vaishya and Shudras at the bottom. Untouchables are kept inside Varna system unlike in India. However, the functioning grouping according to Old Legal Code is different. Prayag Raj Sharma (2004) presents the model of hierarchy as below;


= Twice born castes. (Literally thread-wearing castes) = Drinking castes 10

Matawali Pani Nachalne Chhoi Chhito Halnu Naparne Pani Nachalne Chhoi Chhito Halnu Parne = Caste from whom water cannot be accepted but whose touch does not require sprinkling of water = Untouchable castes

(Sharma, 2004)
The 'Tagadharis' occupy the apex position in the caste hierarchy. Below 'Tagadharis' or the twice-born caste, all the Nepal's ethnic groups under the name of 'Matawalis' have been placed. The Matawali castes are regarded as equivalent to the 'Shudra'. There are two groups of Matawali, those belonging to the unenslavable 'Namasine' and those belonging to enslavable 'Masine'. Below Matawali are Pani Chalne Chhoi Chhito Halnu Naparne i.e. non- untouchable castes. At the bottom of the ranking there are Pani Cachalne Chhoi Chhito Halnu Parne caste i.e. untouchable castes. Thus, above definitions of castes clearly show that it is an extreme form of social stratification that is hereditary. Dalits occupied the lowest position in the caste hierarchy, below ritual barrier as Srinivas (1952) said, and are treated as untouchables. The caste system allocated them the duty of serving the upper castes by their various artistic and manual works. They were completely forbidden to collect the properties, to use the resources and to educate themselves which resulted low socio-economic condition. Thus, Dalits are conceived as a poor, illiterate, untouchable and ritually impure group. Most of these definitions of and works on caste have been made by western scholars in functional view who have supported the legitimacy of caste system. Sharma (1994) strongly rejects westerners view arguing that the studies on caste aimed at the legitimizing and justification of the caste system itself. Caste was pronounced as an allinclusive and encompassing functional system. The pluralism of caste was glorified with the intent of establishing British rule on a sounder footing. This was an exercise in befooling the Indian people and the leaders of various castes and even intellectuals. This argument obviously opens the door for the redefining the caste. Nonetheless, there is question on the relevance of the study of caste in present societies. The legitimacy of caste system has been ended by the various constitutional reformations. The notion of hierarchy, exclusion and division of labor which are the main principles of caste system has disappearing continuously. Globalization and economic liberalization have changed the primitive functioning of the system. 2.2 Sanskritization The term Sanskritization is not well defined but is used to mean a process by which a lower caste in Hindu society attempts to raise its status and to rise to a higher position in the hierarchy. Although the credit of devising the term goes to M N Srinivas, Indian Dalit leader Dr Ambedker had also used similar concept in Dalit movement before Srinivas. Ambedker called his followers (Dalits) to imitate Brahmanic values and practices for achieving a respectable position in society. He initially asserted that discarding traditions of Dalits and imitating that of higher castes emancipates Dalits from their oppressions.


However, in the following years he himself came against this idea of emancipation and turned to the rejection of Hinduism. Srinivas (1952) defined the term as the process by which a low Hindu or tribal or other group changes its customs, rituals, ideology and way of life in the direction of high, and frequently, the twice-born caste. According to him Sanskritization may take place through the adoption of vegetarianism, of teetotalism, of worship of Sananskritic deities or by engaging the service of Brahmins for the ritual purposes. Sanskritization can apply to ritual and costume, to ideas and beliefs, to ideology and practice or to the religion. Beside this, the source of imitation can be the element described in various religious books like, Mahabharat, Geeta, or Ramayan. Srinivas assumes that the main cause of the imitation of the higher castes is the difference in the ritual gap between various castes in caste hierarchy. Hindu society has made the distinction in its culture as Sanskritic and non- Sanskritic. Sanskritic culture has high social and ritual rank and is thought to be followed according to the Hindu religious books. Hence, Sanskritization takes place in the expense of this non-sanskritic culture. The culture of Brahmins is considered as Sanskric and that of Dalits as non-Sanskritic. He considers the economic factor such as western education, jobs in administration, urban source of income, sizable land size as main factor that accelerate the process of Sanskritization. He writes economic betterment, the acquisition of political power, education, leadership and a desire to move up in the hierarchy are all relevant factors in Sanskritization, and each caste of Sanskritization may show all or some factors mixed up in different measures. Similarly, he argues that Sanskritization of a caste in unknown place is faster since the caste can be easily accepted in new place. Sanskritizaion generally raises the status of a Sanskritizing caste but is not applied to the untouchable since they are below ritual barrier as Srinivas points. However, he states that the untouchable do not stop Sanskritization. According to Srinivas, Sanskritization is a group process and does normally take more than one generation to claim new caste and higher status. The sanskritizing caste of whole village should make a mythical story to relate them to the higher castes. An individual effort does not count anything in Sanskritization according to Srinivas. And, after claiming the new caste the sanskritizing caste should imitate the traditions of the higher caste. Dalits, at present also seem to make mythical stories that clearly describe that they belong to higher castes. Although the concept gained a wide attention of sociologists and anthropologists, it is not escaped from the criticism, Carroll (1997), Sharma (1970), Staal (1963) and Singer (1959), Marriot (1959) are at the forefront. Staal (1963) the strongest critics of Sanskritization, argued that the concept Sanskritization as a complex concept or as a class of concepts is misleading since its relationship to the term Sanskrit is extremely complicated. He found that Sanskritization covered the cases where influence of Sanskrit and the amount of Sanskrit material decreased. He argued that what is often called by anthropologists as non-Sanskritic traditions have roots in Sanskritic traditions. He states;
Sankritization as used by Srinivas and other anthropologist is a complex concept or as a class of concepts. The term itself seems to be misleading since its relationship to the term Sanskrit is extremely complicated. Sanskritization covers


the cases where influence of Sanskrit and the amount of Sanskrit material decrease. The concept of Sanskrit culture, in terms of which we could attempt to clarify the terms Sanskritization and sanskritic, is not free from ambiguities although we can not adopt Srinivas concept of Sanskritization in its original form, we would not forget that Srinivas himself was the first to modify it and to stress that it should be discarded quickly and without regret.

Similarly Carroll (1977) questions the relevance of Sanskritization arguing that 'the concept is not only irrelevant as employed in regard to the association of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, but also that the concept itself is faulty and that it's uncritical application forces upon historical material interpretation at variance with empirical evidence. The concepts of Sanskritic / non-Sanskritic tradition has been matter of discussion for the anthropologists as many of them have rejected it, because they assume, any traditions is the mixture of both. Sharma (1970) in this regard, has expressed the dissatisfaction with the Sanskritic / non-Sanskritic dichotomy since it fragments villagers religious experiences into rigid categories. He assumed that it forces the investigator to remove his objects of study from their social context of meaning and purpose. Srinivas (1952) himself accepts the fact that any tradition can not be called absolutely Sanskritic or non-Sanskritic, it varies only in degree. He argues that the hierarchical system, with the Brahmin and untouchable at the end, represents a fusion of Sanskritic and non-Sanskritic ritual and beliefs. Each caste has both Sanskritic and non-Sanskritic rituals and beliefs, but the proportion in which the two are found together vary from caste to caste and also from region to region. In the same way Bradly Hertel (1973) accepts the mixture of both Sanskritic and nonsanskritic traditions in any society. He views that caste traditional on one Sanskritic factor may not necessarily be traditional on others. Persons and caste high in ritual status and education can be active in religious practices but may not hold markedly fatalistic worldviews whereas ritually low and poorly educated castes may hold fatalistic worldviews but worship infrequently or not at all. Similarly, Marriot (1959) also discards the Srinivas view that Sanslritization occurs at the expense of non-Sanskritic traditions. Marriot argued that Sanskritization did not take place in the expense of little traditions, as srinivas suggested, but that it merely resulted in the addition of Sanskritic elements to non-Sanskritic elements. And he added that the agents of Sanskritiztion were not necessarily the higher castes, but Sanskritic elements were obtained instead, from itinerant teachers of exotic cults, from urbane-centered associations of recent group, from new state school, or from the market place (cf Staal, 1963). Milton Singer (1959) virtually discarded the distinction of great and little tradition saying the real structure of tradition, in any civilization or part thereof, is an immensely intricate system of relationships between the levels or components of traditions which we oversimplify by referring to as high and low or great or little (cf Staal 1963). In the similarly way, L. Dumont and D Pocock (1959) reject the Sanskritic/ non-sanskritic dichotomy interpreting Sanskritization not as the imposition of a different system up on an old one, but as the acceptance of a more distinguished or prestigious way of saying the same thing (cf. Staal,1963). 13

Staal (1963) does not accept Sanskritic / non-sanskritic dichotomy of traditions. He argues that the oldest and apparently most pivotal forms of the great traditions are often of a type which many anthropologists would tend to describe as non-Sanskritic and which are in fact based upon little traditions, and the origins of great tradition lie in numerous little traditions, widespread throughout Indian history and geography. The criticism of Sanskritization does nor restrict only in Sanskritic / non-sanskritic dichotomy as some anthropologists say it as too Brahminocentric which always Brahminnon-Barahmin values and does not talk about the oppression of the Brahmins on the lower castes. Parvathamma (1978) while commenting on a book by Srinivas (1976) writes in all writing of Srinivas, the Brahmin-non-Brahmin values are juxtaposed. Hierarchy based on pollution-purity remains instristic to Srinivas thinking in regard to all aspects of human life, even if it is actually not so pronouncedso he has endorsed Brahmanical sociology (cf Sharma, 1994). Similarly, Nepalese sociologist Prayaj Raj Sharma argues that 'Sanskritization in a traditional sense is unlikely to exert influence in Nepal in the future and its place will be likely be taken by Westernization of modernization. He says in the new situation, newer symbols of status would be created by the upper-class families in the urban centers which would set the pace for emulation by new aspiration to social ascendancy, but ethnicity in any new adjustment is likely to endure as the stigma attached to non-Hindu custom will disappear with new forms of socialization' (Sharma, 2004). Raymond and Rajoo (1987) proposes that Sanskritization has become a means of identity formation for a small and suppressive caste stating that it is not a necessary concomitant of social mobility where caste does not make a dominant social factor. Regarding the Sanskritization of Dalits or untouchables there is doubt whether they achieve higher status and cross ritual barrier. Srinivas says that Sanskritization does not always result in the higher status for the Sanskritized caste, and this is clearly exemplified by the untouchables. However thoroughgoing the Sanskritization of an untouchable group may be, it is unable to cross the barrier of untouchability. An untouchable case is always forced to remain as an untouchable (Srinivas, 1952). For reason, Ambedker in his later years of movement discarded the Sanskritization since he did not find any hope of emancipation remaining in Hindu caste structures. He stated I stand today absolutely convinced that for the Depressed classes there can be no equality among the Hindus because on the inequality the foundation of Hinduism. We no longer want to be part of the Hindu society (cf Jaffrelot, 2005). There is not consensus among Dalit scholars on whether Sanskritization helps uplift the Dalits. For this reason, how the gap remains still bigger after Sanskritization of Dalits has been exemplified by Gould (1961). He opines;
"by the time they (the lower casts) reach their destination (Sanskritization) however, they will discover that the Brahmin has himself vacated the spot and moved to the higher hill of westernization where he still gazes contemptuously down upon them from an elevated perch..No, doubt it will be at this point that the lower castes also commence abandoning their craze for Sanskritization and then the book will have to close this concept, as resultant Indian society comes to


grips with the problem of hierarchy in radically different and at this juncture hardly foreseeable terms (cf Lynch (1969).

However, there are some scholars who see the relevance of Sanskritization theory. A M Shah (2005) in this category, accepts the persistence of the relevance of Sanskritization process, although caste system is getting less significance in modern time. He argues that sanskritization is many sided cultural process, only a part of which is caste system. So he says non-caste institutions have also become [powerful agents of Sanskritization. He writes in the changing scenario, the process of sanskritization is thus getting increasingly de-linked from castes, including the so called tribes.the upper caste are no longer the sole, or even the main, agents of sanskritization for the lower castes, and a number of non-caste structure and institutions, many of them impersonal, have become the powerful agents of this process.. Dastider (1995) criticizes the state-sponsored Sanskritization. She says that in a multilingual country like Nepal, ethnic or group identities are bound to emerge with the growth in education. Each group whether small or large feels that the preservation and promotion of its language and culture is a fundamental right. Thus, for protecting the individual ethnic identities, without adopting the policy of ethnocentrism or encouraging the process of Sanskritization, a new basis of national integration will have to be found to give the country a new strength of unity. She further points out that the first group of people to come under the force of Hindu socialization was probably the Khasas. And, the Magars have been regarded as one of the first ethnic groups to be Hinduised because of their early contact with the Hindu groups. She says that in a significant respect, social mobility in Nepal appears to differ from that of India. Srinivas has said, in respect to India that the unit of mobility was usually the group and not an individual or a family. All studied situations in Nepal have, however, furnished instances of mobility in Individual cases only. Gupta (2000) says that while Sanskritization may involve some amount of emulation of the powerful caste of the region, it is not as if the upwardly mobile Sanskritizing caste is ready to discard all its earlier beliefs and practices. Castes always differentiate themselves from other caste on multiple fronts: on how they get married, how they conduct their funerary ceremonies, the cuisines they cook and prefer, and even on basis of gods that they each castes considers to be special to its members. Gupta (1991) further states that Sanskritization is applicable to the understanding of group mobility vis--vis caste structure particularly with reference to socio-cultural behavior patterns. Sanskritization is to be used as a tool of analysis regarding dominant castes or groups and caste ranking and ranks of the Sanskritising castes. Sanskritization does not necessarily reduce economic inequalities nor does it challenge caste hierarchy, however it symbolizes an increased reuse of awareness among the non-privileged sections. Kishan (2002), a Nepali writer virtually accepts Sanskritization of Dalits since their community is full of uncivilized and evil practices and superstitions like use of alcohol and tobacco, eating dead animals, polygamy, use of vulgar words, belief in quack doctors and ghost, witch, Gods, fatalism and rebirth etc, which are to be reformed. He is found that Dalits who did not follow superstition, bad system and evil practices were hated less in society. So he argues that Dalits have to be Sanskritized if they want to uplift them.


Sanskritization of Dalits was started during Rana regime by donning sacred thread and changing caste names. The earliest known example of Sanskritization of Dalits of Nepal might be set by Bhagat Sarbajeet Bishwokarma when he donned sacred thread. Bishwakarma (2005) in this regard writes;
"Despite such adverse situation, especially Bhagat Sarvajeet Bishwakarma of Baglung and his fellow Bhagat Laxmi Narayan Bishwamarma formed an association called Sarbajan Sangh. Sarvajeet Bishwakarma (1939-1947) challenged the orthodox Hindu rule of Rana by wearing sacred thread called Janai which is only worn by Tagadhari claiming that his caste was higher than the Brahmin caste called Kumai (Royal Priest Group). He called them Damai by showing a proof that thread and needle is required during their Shraddha. He was asked not to wear thread but he refused and was put into jail in Palpa.

Hence these critical researches suggest that the concept Sanskritization should be used very cautiously by revising it rather than completely discarding because the relevance of caste system has been decreasing continuously in present society. Three types of scholars, who have worked on Sanskritization seem to exist, first; those who completely reject Sanskrtization since the Sanskritic / non-sanskritic dichotomy is irrelevant; second, those who accepts the theory considering it as an effective tool to study caste society; and third, those who neither completely discard it nor accept, however, they assert the concept must be used by revising it according to the context. The researches on Sanskritization of Dalits who are below pollution barrier, are almost scanty. And, few of them have shown that Dalits can not achieve higher position in caste hierarchy and even can not cross the ritual barrier and the practice of untouchability, however, they do not stay without Sanskritization.


CHAPTER - III RESEARCH METHODS 3.1 Personal Interest to the Research I was born and raised in Dalit community which was full of malpractices and superstitions. I was deeply shocked by the discriminations based on caste and the superstitions prevailing in the society. I was intuitive towards the traditions of Dalits and why they became so. Similarly the absolute poverty of Dalits and their economic, political and socio-cultural exploitation made me do something for them and that started from doing research. I myself had been the victim of the traditions of Dalits imposed upon them by Hindu social system in my own family and community. Alcoholism was so intensive that all the males and few females used to take it and would frequently quarrel and fight among themselves. The village had been polluted by the pig and a frequent quarrel would break between them and higher castes due to pollution it made. They even would not allow the pigs graze in the streets since they were polluted if a pig touched them. Dalits had strong faith upon witch crafty and quacks that they often resisted taking the patient to the hospital which would lead frequent death in the village. So I tried a lot to reduce alcoholism, pig-raising and belief on quack and witch from the community both individually and organized. I many times have broken the distillation vessels, not spoken to my father and mother and even have left the home for several days to compel them abstain from alcoholism. This compelled me to search the disadvantages of these practices to aware and convince the Dalits. I used to say them how harmful these practices are, and interpret how the culture of Dalits evolved. This compulsion that I had to know much about the traditions of Dalits later turned into interest. For my SLC exam I had been in Pokhara that was my first being in the city. Fortunately I happened to live near a Dalit community with a rented room in Brahmins house. My imagination that Dalits in city, who are richer and educated than the village Dalits are better changed when I saw the same thing which troubled me in my village. Every night there would be quarrel and fighting in the community, which we would peep through the window and listen secretly. I used to question myself that why well off and educated people also involve in such bad practices? And what is that they always cling to their culture? Since then I have been living in Pokhara renting sometimes higher castes house and sometimes Dalits. Initially I had to change my caste to get a room in higher castes house. I used to teach our relatives who come to our room to tell the caste we had told to the house owner. In spite of this, I had to leave the room for three times when the real caste was revealed. I myself have been forced to wear Janai (sacred thread) and to read swasthani bratakatha (a holy story book) several times because I was living with a pseudo caste i e Brahmin. There was indirect restriction on foods; I used to eat only mutton and chicken because eating buffs and pork would disclose my caste.


Due to all these incidents occurred to me as a Dalit and involvement in various ceremonies of Dalits of Pokhara made me interested in knowing their traditions and way of life and its change in time and space. 3.2 Research Area The research was conducted among the Dalits of Pokhara. Pokhara is a town which seems to be urbanizing in a faster pace. Four hill Dalit castes, i.e. Bishwokarma, Nepali, Pariyar and Gandharwa have been inhabiting in Pokhara from the beginning of its settlement. These Dalit castes have separate and virtually isolated settlements, which are recently being mixed with others castes; however, the population of Dalits is still large. Although the town is modernizing, the traditional practices and beliefs of the people still seem continuing. Religiosity of Dalits has been manifested significantly in their various activities such as temple worship, daily worship, fasting, Bratabandha etc in Pokhara. Similarly, various caste-associated activities of Dalits that are created due to new constitutional and political ground are also increasing in Pokhara. So, choosing the city is mainly due to two functions; one, I have been living in Pokhara for about a decade and the socio-cultural practices and their change I have experienced here interested me to study Sanskritization, and the other, changing caste relations in new economic-political scenario, where the traditional notion of caste hierarchy is getting less strong, can be studied better in Pokhara. Pokhara is a big city and more than one thousand households of Dalits are found here. So it was difficult to study all the settlements of Dalits. I decided to choose a settlement of each Dalit caste where Dalits have been living from distant past that is original inhabitant as far as possible. Similarly the settlement must not have been encroached much by other castes. For this purpose I used my own experience and consulted various Dalit personalities who seemed to answer my question. Finally I chose four settlements; Batulechour inhabited by Gandharwa, Nadipur inhabited by Pariyars, Fulbari inhabited by Nepalis and Ram bazaar inhabited by Bishwokarmas. The last settlement does not fulfill the need since most of the people here are migrated from outside and is chosen because original settlement of Bishwokarma in Pokhara was not found. In each settlement there are fifty to eighty households of respective Dalit castes.

3.3 Types of Data Both primary and secondary data were used to meet the objectives of the study. More emphasis was given to primary data and for this field work was conducted. The data on socio-cultural practices are to be collected at first hand by looking and asking to the people so that observation and interview were conducted for primary data. However, knowledge on their traditions and way of life was taken from some secondary sources such as books, journals, articles, municipal profiles etc. Qualitative data were used for the study because the study was aimed to know how the traditions and way of life have been changed. It was not intended to relate Sanskritization


with economy, education, land size and political awareness or any other variables that require quantitative data. 3.4 Method of Data Collection 3.4.1 Observation The fieldwork was conducted during four months i.e. November, December, January and February of 2006/2007. Although observation was the main tool of data collection I did not live in each settlement as other fieldworkers generally do because it was very difficult to do so for a researcher with many research areas. So I lived at Bagar which is almost at the middle of all the settlements. I visited these settlements regularly and alternatively and in need, any one of them. At first I made rapport with few respectable and elderly Dalits of each settlement and took their telephone numbers so that they could inform me if any occasion, ritual or ceremony occurred in the settlement. For approaching the field, first of all, the elderly and respectable person, who usually has better knowledge of the tole and is obeyed by all, was identified with the help of various Dalit personalities such as friends, activists and NGO holders. Preliminary information of the tole was obtained from him and. And the person made me introduced to all Dalits taking me door to door which helped building rapport. Then I selected the households to be observed according to the referral of the person as per the need of the study because observing all households in a settlement was impossible. After making rapport I visited the settlements regularly staying there whole day participating in informal taking, in game or in any other things that the respondents are involving. During my visit I used to observe everything I required to answer my research question. For this purpose, I made an observation list for observing their daily activities and things around them such as the food habit, dress, dialects, housing, kitchen, domestic animals, worship rooms, work etc and asked them question when clarification was needed. Information on festivals, ceremonies, rites and rituals that did not occur during my field work was obtained by asking to the respondents and by using my own experience. Asking questions to respondents was asked on the spot, wherever it required. Mainly I extracted the required data from informal talking. Initially I used electronic recorder to facilitate the interpretation, but later I stopped it when I found that respondents hesitated to talk in front of the recorder. I even did not note the information on copy because copy and pen would distort the real information. The information obtained during each visit of a day was written as descriptive note at the evening after getting back to my room. Every end of the day, I used to conduct self interview, that is ask questions to me like how, why and why not did it happen. And I used to make a list of items that are to be observed the next day. 3.4.2 Key Informant Interview The information that could not be obtained by observations such as on differences in culture of Dalits and higher castes, why and how Sanskritization is undergoing, history of Sanskritization, settlement history, religiosity and secularization of Dalits, etc was collected from key persons of the communities. These key persons included respectable persons of the settlements, Dalit intellectuals, activists and leaders, Brahmin priests, member of clubs, mother groups, caste associations and Dalit NGOs.


At least three persons of each settlement who were thought to meet the criteria were chosen for interview in my convenience. For this purpose normally an elderly and who seemed to know on the subject more was considered. Generally interview was conducted for one to one and half hours and was recorded in electronic recorder which was transcribed into written form at the end of the day. A check list was prepared to facilitate the interview and the interview was made more a discourse than mere an interview. In-depth interviews were conducted with some respondents to gather detailed information on the subject. A Dalit woman priest was interviewed and observed in-depth to know how and why did she become priest and what were the consequences of her priestly in the society. 3.5 Validity Validity of the data was ensured by the direct involvement of the researcher himself in observation and interview and by triangulation. Similar questions were asked to a variety of respondents to check the validity of the data. Similarly, validity of the data was maintained by comparing the data obtained from observation and interviews. 3.7 Method of data Analysis Analysis of the data was mainly qualitative. After the field visits the information collected from different sources, such as observation and interview were thoroughly reviewed. Classification and cross-classification of data and structural and flow-chart were used to facilitate data analysis. The field notes and audio records were transcribed into written form. Then, the data were coded, categorized, condensed and interpreted manually. To facilitate the interpretation direct quotation of the people has been presented. The missing data was completed by revisit of the field. Afterward editing of the data was made. Lastly interpreting of the data obtained made a valid conclusion. 3.8 Limitation of the study The research did not attempt to study the relevance of Sanskritization in its theoretical foundation. As many anthropologists have done. But, here the usefulness of the theory only among Dalits of Pokhara has been attempted to answer. Similarly, there is no obvious distinction, either in written form or in observation, between the cultures of Dalits and high castes. So the researcher made the distinction by asking about it to elderly people of both Dalits and non-Dalits. Normally, anthropological researches require intensive fieldwork with observation as a main tool of data collection for at least a year. But, the fieldwork of the present research was conducted only for four months because of which all the rituals, worships and festivals could not be observed. Since it was a case study of a single Dalit community of a single district, widespread generalization should not be made from it, but it can be expected that there will be reoccurrence of similar response in a similar context to this research.


CHAPTER - IV GENERAL BACKGROUND OF THE PEOPLE OF STUDY AREA 4.1 Pokhareli Dalit Dalits are those groups of Hindu people who are kept at the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy. The four fold hierarchy of Hindu society is comprised of Brahmins at the top, then Kshetris, Vaishyas and the Shudras at the bottom. Dalits are considered as belonging to Shudra Varna. The word "Dalit" was used for the first time by "Simon Commission" in 1927 in British India to refer to the group of people of Shudra Varna whose touch is not accepted. In Nepal, this word was used by Dalit activists and organizations from 2024 B. S. The literal meaning of Dalit is "oppressed", "exploited" or "subjugated" which is devised as they are oppressed by the higher caste. National Dalit Commission has defined the term as "the community known as so called untouchables (Pani Nachalne ra Chhoichhoti Halnu Parne) by Hindu Varnashram System and the Civil Code 1910 B.S., discriminated in the society and excluded from social, economic, political, educational and religious life and also from the national mainstream are Dalit people". The Old Legal Code, 1854, defined the group as Pani Nachalne Chhoi Chhito Halnu Parne, meaning those groups from whom water is not accepted and whose touch requires sprinkling of holy water to purify them. National Dalit Commission has listed twenty two Dalit castes living in Nepal. Out of these twenty-two castes, only five castes, Gandharwa, Damai, Sarki, Badi and Vishwokarma are found inhabiting in hill regions and are termed as Hill Dalits. However, only four Dalit castes, Vishowkarma, Damai, Sarki and Gandharwa are found in Pokhara. Dalits or untouchables are the on of the groups of people within Hindu caste system whose social, economic, health status and political condition are lowest compared to other groups in Nepal. 4.2 Socio-economic Condition of Dalits The lowest position of Dalits in the caste hierarchy has resulted in the poverty, powerlessness and social exclusion. Such conditions of Dalits seem to have been resulted due to the deliberate oppression and exploitation of the society and the state based on Hindu orthodoxy. Economically they are the poorest of the poor, and most of them are land-less. They are still involving in Jajamani system or Balighare Pratha, which is the main way of living of Dalits. This is a system, in which the Dalits have to serve the higher castes, and in return, they get grains during harvest once a year. Normally, they get very less paying as compared to their labor. Although, the system remains strong in most of the villages, it seems almost disappeared in Pokhara. However, traditional occupation of the Dalits is still seen in Pokhara. The occupations are declining because of two main causes; one, it has been greatly affected by modernization and another, most important, is its low social prestige. Most Dalits discard their occupation, although it has handsome earning. Dalits are illiterate because of deliberate denial of schooling to them. Reading and writing was against their caste norms as they had to serve the high castes by their various menial works. Education was the prerogative of higher caste only. Although there is equal


opportunity for education in recent decades, literacy rate has not been increasing satisfactorily because of poverty. In case of Pokhara, it seems that Dalits are not investing on education sufficiently although they have good opportunity and can afford it easily. This shows that the age-old psychology that education does not belong to Dalits is still strong among them. Dalits suffer from various caste based discriminations which seem still continue in Nepal in spite of various laws against these. The discrimination on the basis of caste is not only occurring from the high caste Hindus, but also from Janajatis and Buddhist. Bhattachan has listed two hundred and five types of discriminations on the basis of caste. For instance, denial of use of public amenities, social boycott, forced labor, untouchability etc. Use of public amenities such as tap, well, school, teashop, forest has been difficult (banned) to them. Although they are Hindus, they are not allowed to enter and worship the temple. Reading religious books and chanting Mantras had been banned to them. They do not have any participation on any level the state. Overall, they are deprived of all the means and resources of the state. In Pokhara, the untouchability is not seen in public places, however it is seen in personal affair such as in house. The discriminatory behavior of high caste people toward Dalits can be easily traced, and, is decreasing slowly. 4.3 Hierarchy and Decreasing Caste Rigidity Caste system is unique system only prevalent in Indian subcontinent. The Hindu social system is stratified on the basis of occupations and rituals they follow. Mainly there are four gradations, Brahmins, Kshetrias, Vaishyas and Shudras. The Brahmins are kept at .the top, then Kshetriyas, Vaishyas and at the bottom the Shudras. The first two Varna are called Twice-born caste as they bear sacred thread. The unit of analysis in not the Varna in the caste system, it is the Jati or sub-caste. In addition, each gradation is also sub-divided into many hierarchical divisions. The hierarchy endows the separateness for each caste such as separation in marriage, rituals and food. In Pokhara, from the eyes of Dalits, mainly three rungs of caste ladder can be seen. The Brahmins / Chhetris are at the top, then Janajatis/Gurungs/ Newars/Magars and at the bottom the Dalits, Kami/Sarki/Damai/Gandharwa. There is hierarchy among the Dalit castes also, Kamis at the top, then the Sarki, Damai and the Gandharwa at the bottom. The notion hierarchy among the Dalit castes is reducing now-a-days. Not only the hierarchy is present among the four varnas in Hindu society, but also among the Dalits, which is similar in nature ad rigidity. Of the four castes of Dalits, Bishwokarma are at the top, then, Nepalis, Pariyars and Gandharwa at the bottom. The basis of the hierarchization seems to be the ritual status, dietary and their occupations. However, there are not obvious differences in the ritual performances among the castes to support the contradictions of superiority and inferiority. Such contradictions occur between Bishwokarma and Nepali, and between the Pariyar, and the Gandharwa, and these two castes are closer to each other than other castes. The rigidity of the caste rules especially in untouchability in between these castes is loose, such as untouchability between Bishwokarma and Nepali is looser than between Bishwokarma and Pariyars. For instance, touch of Nepalis is accepted by the Bishwokarma, but their presence in the kitchen is objectionable, water is accepted outside the house, but is not for cooking in the kitchen. Rules of marriage between these two castes are not strict. If a Bishwokarma man marries a Nepali woman, he can be accepted by organizing certain communal (mostly within lineage) feasts. Children of such couple are entitled as Kandar, and have lower


status then the Bishwokarma. While, if a Nepali man marries a Bishwokarma woman, the woman is downgraded to Nepali caste. Such similarities and differences occur in between Pariyars and Gandharwas too. The contradictions such as better than you occur among the sub-castes (or Thar) of these castes of Dalits. For example, Kami, Sunar, Chunara, Tamata etc hierarchized on the basis of dietary, their lineage and occupation, and the deities they worship. The feeling of superiority and inferiority that remain within a single caste is manifested especially in marriage performances. They do not make marriage ties with certain sub castes. However, such feeling of superiority-inferiority and untouchability among the sub-caste of particular Dalit caste and among the Dalits as a whole is disappearing with the emerging awareness of the caste system and the changing political scenario of the state. This fact has been proven by various inter-dinning programs and inter-castes marriages among Dalits, which are recently increasing. The implications of caste system are decreasing both in rural and urban areas. The discriminations on the basis of the caste were abolished legally by Muluki Yein 2020 B.S. However, such discriminations remain rampant in practice. Although the roots of caste system are stronger in rural areas, these are weakening in urban areas. There are no any ritual bans for Dalits in Pokhara, they can enter the temples freely, hold any types of worships, read religious books etc. Untouchability in public places has been almost absent although it remains a little in household activities. The legal abolition of untouchability, availability of education to all, new economic opportunity, democracy and Maoist movements have created new paradigm in caste system. Maoist movement has forcefully changed the perception of untouchability and caste hierarchy. Although the movement did not bring any awareness program against the suffering of the caste discrimination, it attacked the Hindu orthodoxy by demolishing temples, trimming Tupee of priests, eating cows etc. Dalit Maoist entered Brahmins house and shared the kitchen with them. This movement had been taken by the Dalits as fuel to speak against caste sufferings. Dalits started self-evaluation and self reformation in an effort to gain respectability and higher status in the caste system only after the advent of democracy in 2007 B S and that is further geared up by the civil code 2020 B S. They tried to adopt orthodox Hindu practices such as worship, wearing sacred thread, giving up carcass etc. 4.4 Broken Patron-client Relationship According to the division of labor in the Hindu society, Dalits have to serve the higher castes by various skillful and menial works. The work or service is not paid in cash; it is paid in grain once a year especially during harvest time. This system is called Jajamani system, or Bali Pratha. Within Dalits, a particular caste is allocated a particular service, for instance, Bishwokarma have been servicing by repairing and making Iron tools and golden ornaments Pariyar by sewing cloths by leather works, such as making shoes,and Ghandharwa by singing songs. And, within Bishwokarmas, Kamis are involving in Iron works, Sunars in Gold works, Chunaras in making wooden vessels especially used for putting milk, curd and ghee, and Tamatas for cooper works. This shows that, Dalits have artistic expertise that is resulted from the specialization of their occupation. The fact that these occupational castes (some prefer to say occupational caste to Dalit) are present in all


the parts and among all the castes of the country is due to their essentiality. And, this occupation has created a deep and inseparable relationship between the higher castes and Dalits. The frequent contact and interaction between these castes have fostered the process of Sanskritization of Dlaits. As has already been mentioned above, the traditional occupations based on Jajamani system (a system in which the service is paid in grains once a year and the service provider and receiver are normally permanent and hereditary) is the main way of survival of the Dalits. Dalits used to get various necessities during festivals from their patrons. The full dependence of Dalits on their patrons (high caste) and easy fulfillment of their basic needs did not necessitate them buy land and do labor themselves and save the earnings. The psychological dependency has been prevalent among Dalits, although they are welloff, but in recent time, the paying in grains has decreased significantly which does not suffice for their living. Hence, Dalits are searching for alternative source of living, and have been converting Jajamani system into cash system. In case of Pokhara, traditional occupations seem to have been continuing, which is not in Jajamani system, but in cash system. The patron-client relationships have been almost disappeared. New sources of income have been still difficult for them because of lack of education and good skills. Very few in number, may be less than five, have joined government services. A significant number of Ghandharwa have been working in Municipality office in low positions especially in collecting garbage and peon. Similar number of them has also been involving in private schools as dance and song teachers either in part time or in contract basis. Nepalis and the Kamis are the most affected castes by their occupation. It is very hard to see Kamis working with Iron in Pokhara. However, few Nepalis are seen repairing and making shoes in small rooms. These two occupations have been almost disappeared due to the importation of mechanized tools and materials against which their low skill could not compete. Most flourishing occupations among all is of Sunars, repairing and making ornament. Most of the Sunars are involving in such occupation, and have earned a good amount. Similarly tailoring is also flourishing in Pokhara. However, both of these occupations have to face challenges from Indian materials and more skillful manpower. Nonetheless, the occupations are the symbol of low social prestige, which have inextricably linked with the socio-economic and ritual status of Dalits. It is assumed that the system of untouchability was emerged due to their occupations, which compel them to be dirty. Due to this fact, Dalit activists and leaders are, now trying to separate them from their occupation and break down the patron-client relationship. And, the Dalits do not like to continue the occupations themselves, if not for their generations due to its low social prestige although they get handsome earnings. 4.5 Increasing Religious Performance Dalits are the Hindus, whose life activities are directed by its principles and ideology. The idea of karma and dharma is strong among the Dalits. According to the idea of karma, the birth in a particular caste is associated with the deeds in previous births. And all the happiness and sorrows present are the result of previous incarnation. If a man does better work in previous incarnations, then he is deserved to get birth as a high caste, otherwise as a low caste. Thus, the idea of karma has strongly helped to fortify the caste system and hierarchy linking it with the religion. And, according to the idea of dharma a caste has to


follow its caste norms strictly. Any deviation from caste norms is taken as sinful act and is responsible to make a man born a low caste in next generations. The caste norms are made according to Varna system in which the Dalits have to serve the higher castes by their occupation. Similarly, the concept of purity and pollution is also present among the Dalits in Pokhara. This concept has defined the status of castes and the individual in family too. According to this concept, the higher castes such as Brahmins and Kshetriyas are pure and have high social status whereas Dalits are impure and have low social status. Hence, the touch of low caste, Dalits is not accepted by the higher castes. Among the caste, dining, sex, touch etc are considered as polluting to the superior castes which need a simple purificatory rite in order to be pure. Such concept of purity and pollution is within a family also. Unmarried persons in a family are considered as less pure and are prohibited to perform certain rituals. In case of Brahmins those who have not performed upanayana are considered as impure, only after upanayana a person in Brahmin family becomes a true Brahmin. Similarly, women during menstruation, pregnancy and delivery are considered as impure and are prohibited to attend certain rituals. A woman during menstruation and delivery has to stay separate and she is not touched by others. If she is touched, the person needs certain purificatory rites, generally sprinkling of water touched with the gold. The women during such period become pure by observing some rituals after fix days of strict observance. Dalits have strong faith up on fate, supernatural power and superstitions. They believe that the present situation is the result of their previous incarnations and their performances are controlled by some supernatural power. The belief on superstitions such as witch, dhami and jhankri is still prevalent in them. However, now a days such beliefs are being given less importance among Dalits in Pokhara. The worships of the deities and the rituals of both Brahmins and Dalits are not much different because these are guided by Hindu principles. Two types of deities, i. e. domestic and communal, are worshipped by all the castes of Dalits. Domestic deities such as bai, vanyar, are worshipped by individual family, whereas communal deities such as mai (ancestral deity) and nag are worshipped by the whole village together. Similarly, satyanarayan puja, ghar puja, ghraha santi puja are held occasionally. They observe temple worships frequently in order to fulfill their demand with God especially made during pregnancy, foreign travel, illness etc. Although, domestic and communal worships are getting less importance, temple and occasional worships have been getting more importance among Dalits at present. Birth-death rituals are followed by the Dalits according to Hindu traditions. Conspicuous ritual differences between the Brahmins and Dalits are; a, upanayana ritual was absent among Dalits, b, Dalits used to take meat during purificatory rite at death whereas Brahmins did not take, c, Dalits did not use to read religious book in such rituals as Brahmins do. Now a days this ritual gap is being reduced by Dalits through the imitation of the rituals of Brahmins. Dalits observe all the Hindu festivals as Brahmins do except janaipurnima (a festival at which sacred thread is changed).


CHAPTER- V SANSKRITIZATION AND CASTE OPPOSITION It is very difficult to trace the examples of Sanskritization among the Dalits or the untouchable castes because of the similarities in beliefs and practices of the Brahmins and Dalits who are both the Hindus. The rituals, rites and deities they worship are somehow similar. However, discernible differences can be seen in food habits and religious practices. The differences are formed due to the restrictions made to Dalits on certain rituals. For instance, Dalits were restricted to enter and worship the temples, to read Vedas and chant Vedic hymns, to wear sacred thread etc. Actually, the culture of Dalits is formed by the restrictions made on some of the Hindu practices. The effect of modernization on socio-cultural change has been increasing significantly in Pokhara. Sanskritic values and norms have been remarkably replaced by the modern ones. The traditions which are considered as non-Sanskritic or polluting are being practiced by the higher castes. For example, consumption of alcohol, pork and buffs is increasing, and religious activities of the people especially of Brahmins are decreasing. Another cause of easy adoption of modern values by Hindus is the flexibility of Hinduism. There is no any institution of Hinduism to protect it. Similarly, there are no strict rules of religiosity in Hinduism. Hence, the heavy importation of modern values by the people of Pokhara made difficult to study Sanskritization process among the Dalits. There is doubt that whether the Brahmins are following the Sanskritic culture. The Sanskritic way of life as described in Hindu rituals can not be seen among the Brahmins now a days. Restriction on certain foods like onion, garlic and ginger, rituals while having food, daily worship among the Brahmins have been disappeared. Similarly, consumption of beef by the Dalits has roots in Sanskritic tradition. Many religious books show that cow slaughter was important ritual in various feasts and festivals during Vedic period. Hence, it is very difficult to separate the Sanskritic and non-sanskritic tradition clearly among the Hindus in present society. Each caste has both Sanskritic and non-Sanskritic traditions and beliefs fused together, but the proportion may be different. Brahmins may have high proportion of Sanskritic and less non-Sanskritic traditions and beliefs whereas Dalits may have the reverse. Thus, this controversy in Sanskritic and non-Sanskritic tradition further makes the study of Sanskritization process difficult. However, the Dalits seem to be adopting certain traditions and practices, which were forbidden to them earlier. They are adopting even such traditions and practices, which Brahmins are not practicing at present. The practices, which are considered as nonSanskritic or polluted, have been discarded by them. Hence, Sanskritization, although not a major social change, is undergoing among the Dalits of Pokhara. The process is different both, in nature and purpose than as Srinivas described among the Coorgs in India. There is no rise in status of Dalits in Pokhara, group mobility can not be found i. e. Sanskritization is undergoing in individual level, and the purpose is not seen as to conform in caste hierarchy. The process is found to be occurring as a phenomenon of opposing caste hierarchy and its functions in Pokhara. Sanskritization of Dalits in Pokhara is found to be undergoing for two purposes, one for getting back their earlier traditions, which were seized by the Manu Smritee. Before Manu Smritee there was no discrimination in the rituals and traditions between the


Brahmins and the Dalits. Both the Brahmins and the Dalits had same traditions, rituals and way of life. Only after Manu Smritee made certain restrictions on traditions and rituals to the Dalits, their traditions and rituals started becoming different. Khim Bahadur Says:
Earlier ours and Brahmins culture was same, later the cunning Brahmins incorporated better ones (culture) and made us accept bad ones. So we need to claim that culture now.

Therefore, the Dalits now contend that they are in the process of regaining their original culture. For this, I have termed as "Reformation". Another, Dalits are adopting new cultural practices which are based on egalitarian modern value system in the expense of discriminatory and exploitative Hindu traditions. For this, I have termed as "Asserting Rights". Hence, socio-cultural change among Dalits is analyzed here under two headings, reformation and asserting rights. 5.1 Socio-culture Reformation Before analyzing Sanskritization, it is better to know the differences between the culture of the Dalits and higher castes. The origin and differences of the cultures make the understanding of the process clear. Dalits are considered as the Shudra of Hindu population. They belong to Aryan race as Brahmins, Kshetriyas and Vaishyas do. The Varna Vyavastha (Varna system) was introduced since 1500 B C from the Indian subcontinent. The mention of the four Varnas and their origin was made in tenth part of the RigVed. The division of the Varnas was made according to the occupation they follow. Each Varna was free to adopt any types of occupation. A Shudra could be Brahmin if he reads the Sastras (religious books), and a Brahmin could be a Shudra if he involves in menial works. The Varna was ascriptive, not hereditary. The hierarchy and the exclusiveness were absent at the beginning. Manu Smritee (Hindu law book written by Manu) at around 300 B C made the system hereditary, hierarchical and exclusive. The Smritee determined separate duties and responsibilities to each Varna such as what to do, what not to do, what to eat, what to wear, how to speak etc. For instance, Do not give knowledge and teachings of religion to Shudra Also, do not teach them about Brata (fasting) (Manu Smritee, 4/80) If a Shudra tries to worship like Brahmin The king should give him life sentence (Arati Samhita, 19) If a Shudra listen the Vedas, put molten lead to his ear If he chants the Mantras of Vedas, cut his tongue (Gautam Sutra, 12) While giving name, A Brahmin should add suffix as Sharma, Kshetriya as Shiva and Varma Vaishya as Gupta And Shudra as Das (Manu Smritee, 2/32)


There is ban on Asur Bibaha to Brahmin, He should observe Brahma, Daiva, Arsha abd Prajapatya Bibaha Kshetriya should observe Rakshasa Bibaha And, Vaishya and Shudra have to follow Asur Bibaha (Manu Smritee, 3/24) These lines of various Smritees clearly show that the life of lowly placed Varnas in the system is dictated by the higher Varnas. Restriction was made on reading religious books, wearing sacred thread, worshipping and fasting, occupation, marriage etc to the Shudras. Duty of serving the higher castes was given to the Shudras. Menial works, which are considered as having lowest respect and polluting, were at their hands. For example, skinning of dead animals, dumping carcass, sweeping the street, iron and leather works etc were for the Shudras or the Dalits. Assuming that the cause of their present sufferings is the Brahmins who dictated their life Dalits are now trying to seek their past identity. They claim that the Vedic tradition was belonging to them in the past. Few informants told a story of a Brahmin who stole the Veda from a Bishwokarma's house as;
"Vedas were the property of Bishwokarmas in the past. One day a Bishwokarma was busy working at his aaran putting the Veda aside. A Brahmin client read it secretly and found it very important for him. He stole it from there. From that time, it was read by the Brahmins That why the Brahmins did not show and recite the Vedas to the Dalits thinking that if they see and listen it they would get it back again.

Similarly, a Pariyar informant told that the sacred thread (Janai) belonged to then in the past. The purpose of carrying the thread in the body was that it would be needed for sewing wherever they go. Thread is necessary for sewing and the occupation of the Pariyar (Damai) was to sew the cloths of all castes. Later when Brahmins found it useful they started wearing it on their body. In this way, it is clear that Dalits are assuming that the traditions, the Brahmins are practicing what we call Sanskritic, belong to them in the past. Hence, they are busy adopting such traditions at present. Few instances of claiming such traditions by the Dalits can be traced. Such evidences can be traced during Rana regime in spite of its suppressive dictatorship. Gaining the expertise in Hindu religious books; Vedas, Upanisad, Smritee, Puran, Sarbajit Bishwokarma of Baglung, performed the naming ritual of his son according to Vedic rituals in 2003 B.S. for the first time. It was a challenging job at that time as the Dalits were forbidden even to touch the religious books. He preformed daily worship making a temple close to his house. Irritated Brahmins could not tolerate it and they vandalized the temple house to interrupt the worship. In 2006 B. S, he submitted a request letter to the Rana Prime Minister Mohan Samser demanding the right to continue the Vedic rituals and to wear sacred thread, Janai. The Prime Minister ordered that they became Khadka Chhetri and could wear Janai. Since then, the Bishwokarma of Baglung started wearing Janai on their body. Similarly, in 2011 B. S, Samaj Sudhar Sangh successfully completed the Pasupati temple entrace programme on the leadership of Siddhibahadur Khadgi. This struggle committee removed a board entitled "no entry to untouchables" from Pashupati for the first time. Similarly, Jana Bikas Parisad formed in 2024 B. S, organized various anti-caste movements such as temple entrance, rejecting 28

dish-wash in hotel, against discrimination in school etc. Overall, the Sanskritization of Dalits of Pokhara as rebuilding their past culture can be presented in two sub-processes i.e. adoption and rejection. 5.1.1 Adoption Generally, the drive of lowly placed people to rise to the higher status comes itself if there is hierarchy in the system. The opposition of caste system and attempt to move up the caste hierarchy came in the Dalits from the beginning of the caste system. However, the attempts had been hidden in the womb because of the fear of severe punishment system on the violation of caste rules for Dalits. Although, the Old Legal Code 1854, itself made favorable environment for the twice-born castes to promote to a higher caste through the medium of hyper-gamy, there was no possibility to move up for the Dalits. For Dalits, New Legal Code 1963 (Naya Muluki Yein) made favorable environment for the adoption of traditions of higher caste and, for questioning caste hierarchy. However, during late Rana period, few official decrees had been made in favor of Sanskritization of Dalits, which is seen just to get support of Dalits, not for upliftment of them. Similarly, constitution of 1990 fueled the process. Lastly, peoples' movement 2006 has created new hope and enthusiasm among Dalits. Re-installed House of Representatives has committed to eliminate untouchability announcing the nation as untouchability free nation. In this regard, Dalits of Pokhara are adopting various traditions and practices, which were only the prerogatives of higher castes in the past. The feeling of Dalits that the values and practices of Brahmins are superior and better aroused a motive in Dalits to adopt such practices. So, illustration and description of adoption of high caste traditions and practices by Dalits have been made. Religious adoptions The religious quest of Dalits has been increased significantly in the recent two decades especially after the introduction of multiparty democracy in 1990. Considerable and obvious changes in way of life of Dalits have been seen in religious performances. The increment in religiosity of Dalits is the result of the age-long disallowance of them to follow religious activities such as worshipping in temple, reading religious books etc, which were considered as illegal by the constitution of 1990. However, such religious activities are reported to have been opposed by the people of higher castes, who are supported by the state even after the constitution. Although the constitution made the provision of not discriminating its people by caste in public properties and activities, its effective implementation was lacking. Dalits assume that the cause of not implementation of the laws is the overwhelming presence of higher caste in the authority. Nonetheless, in Pokhara such clashes did not occur and there does not seem such possibility although that still continue in rural areas. Urbanization, in which immigration of newer people do occur, has made Dalits conducive environment to adopt religious performances which were only the privilege of higher castes in the past. It is easier and faster to undergo Sanskritization among new people and in new places. Until few decades ago, the settlements of the Dalits were isolated from that of the higher castes which lessens the interaction between them. But, now a days, the houses in such Dalit settlements are intermixed with that of higher castes.


Various mahayagnyas, purans and worships held occasionally in Pokhara have also played a significant role in the Sanskritization of Dalits. One, such worships inspire Dalits follow Sanskritic traditions as described by the religious books read there. Dalits are also made participated in such worship in organizing committee. Another, the Priests (Swami) in the worship bring awareness about the evil of Hinduism. They teach about the equality of all people before God and emphasize that Dalit should also be allowed to perform religious activities as higher castes do. Late Narayan Pokhrel, a prominent priest, would often honor Dalits and encourage them attend such worships. Religious programs in television and radios have also considerable effects Sanskritization of Dalits in Pokhara. Especially Indian religious television channels have greater effects. Fasting, wearing various colored bangles according to the month etc are the effects of Indian channels. Involvement in Various Worships Plantation of Tulasi For the few years, daily worship has been an essential part of daily work of Dalits. It is found that every house contained a small separate place for worship, decorated by pasting pictures of Gods and Goddesses and putting their idols. While in few houses, a small temple has been built for worship. Mostly females and only one in a house, involve in this job. Two or three small copper vessels are kept with pure water and flowers on it. They just, offer tika (Abir), glow incense (Dhup) and join their hand for asking the blessings. After the worship, the family members are offered tika and some pieces of fruit. In local term, it is called as Chokho Pani Rakhne meaning putting pure water. Generally, she has to have a bath and change pure cloth in order to worship, however, the rules are not strict, and she need not necessarily have bath and pure cloth. Similarly Dalits have been encouraged in various occasional worships such as Satyanarayan puja, Manakamana puja, Vindhyabashini puja, Nag puja, Kul puja, Home puja etc in recent years. Earlier Satya Narayan puja was only observed by the Brahmins. It was said that one of the food items of the puja, Panchamrit (food made of five holy foods) should not be eaten by Dalits. However, now a days it is eaten by Dalits both in Brahmin's puja and their own. They frequently visit famous temples of the country with goats and cocks to fulfill their demand especially made for the education of their children, safe conception, and foreign travel. There is active participation of Dalits in various Mahayagyna (big worships) in Pokhara either by remaining in the management committee or by listening or by donating some amount. The Brahmin priests often honor Dalits by offering garland to show that Hindu religion is not discriminatory itself and encourage Dalits involve in religious activities. Late Narayan Pokharel used to give speeches about the bad practices of Hinduism and call all not to discriminate on the basis of caste. Tulasi, a religious and most essential plant in many rituals is found planted in few houses by the Dalits in Pokhara. It is especially seen in Fulbari. Earlier the tradition of planting Tulasi was of only twice-born castes. Tulasi is kept at the corner of courtyard and is worshipped daily. Similarly, peepal and bar trees have been also planted in few houses for religious purposes. Strict rules and regulations for the worship were not observed. Any one in the family with any type of food habit is legible for the worship.

30 Dalit Temple and Priest Greater concern of Dalits has been manifested in temple building and worship as a symbol of their liberation. The whim of temple building came in the recent two or three years especially after the announcement of the Government during the prime ministry of Sher Bahadur Deuba, which declared the state as untouchability free. Such temples were constructed by collecting the fund themselves in the community. Management committee has been made to manage the temple and the priests. Three such temples, each in Nadipur, Fulbari and Rambazaar have been built and that contain a Dalit priest each. In my question- are you worshipping due to influence of Brahmin, most of them would answer- no, we do not imitate them, they are cunnings and dishonest. Most of Dalits perceive the Brahmins as cruel and cunnings who oppressed and exploited them for centuries. They see that the present poor socio-economic, educational condition of Dalits is caused by the Brahmins. In Fulbari, two temples, one of Goddess Mahakali and the other of ancestral God, are worshipped twice a year in communal level. The temple management committee holds the worship on Jestha and Aswin in which all the households should participate compulsorily. In Aswin, Asthami Puja is done which is one of the important worship in Dashain. In Jestha, Mai Puja, an ancestral worship is done to propitiate the ancestors. Earlier Mai Puja was done offering a pig but now a days a black goat is offered. The pig offer was discarded since it was a polluting animal in Hindu rituals. Also in Rambazaar and Nadipur similar types of communal worships are held. In fact, establishing such temples is much hard because the land is very expensive in Pokhara. Strong enthusiasm in temple building and worship in spite of hardships shows increasing religiosity and desire to claim the traditions which belonged to higher castes. The hidden fact that the temple worship is against caste hierarchy could be easily manifested in the saying of the respondents. Ramchandra, a priest of a temple in the tole said;
We all are equal; no one is low and high by caste. Only the work he does make a man high and low. Gods do not discriminate us, only the clever Brahmins discriminate. So it is not reasonable to say that only Brahmins have to worship, we also have to worship the temples.

These temples are worshipped mostly by Dalits, presence of higher castes is very rare. This is due to the fact that the high caste people label the temple as Dalit temple and is only for Dalits. And those who come to worship hesitate to accept tika and Prasad (ritual food) from Dalit priest. This shows that the high caste people are not ready to accept Dalits equal to them. Due to this reason Dalit activists are against the establishment of separate temples, which lessens the chances of co-working with higher castes. They assert that instead of making separate temples, they have to struggle to worship in same temple where high castes also worship. Thus, they claim that doing so can reduce differences between the high and low castes. A Dalit priest has been employed in the temple in monthly payments in Fulbari. He stays in the temple in morning only especially from 6 to 10 a. m. and in the day time he


continues his own works. The priest does not have abstentions from meat and alcohol; neither does he wear yellow dresses that easily distinguish him. Below is a case study of a Dalit woman priest. While Ramchandra said;
I have been serving as a priest in this temple for three years. I am very glad at this job for we got success of establishing temple of our own in this orthodox Hindu society. I do not have any restrictions on food. I eat meat, alcohol and cigar all. If we offer animals to God, why can not we eat meat? I complete Bibaha, Bratabandha and Ghar Paincho, Ghraha Santi, but without citing the book.

This clearly shows that Dalits are not encouraged to establish temple and worship it just for religious merit but for expression of their resentment to the Brahmins supremacy and the caste system. The priest does not consider himself as a priest. More than a priest he takes himself as a normal people. Similarly few Dalit people in Pokhara are practicing astrology which was initially belonged to the Brahmins. Below is a caste study of a Dalit woman who is practicing astrology and priestly; Case Study I
Maya Devi, a pseudo name, 35, and Gandharwa (Gaine) by caste is living in Batulechour in Pokhara. Married at the age of 13, the mother of three children is working as priest and astrologer in spite of the Hindu social practice that does not allow a low caste be a priest. Struggling with the hardships of life, she has now been able to stand as a renowned Dalit priest at local level. Although Gandharwa by caste, Maya Devi and her husband never lived singing songs that is a common occupation of people of the caste. Due to the small income gained by her husband by fishing, the family lived in poverty for few years after their marriage. The condition of the family improved after she involved in selling fruits and vegetables carrying in basket. At present she is happy of her living because her husband works in Municipality office and she herself earns a good amount as a priest. At around 25, Maya Devi got severe backache and trembling of body. The disease could not be recovered by medicine and local healers. She finally went in the refuge of a renowned Baba (Priest) at Chhabise, about 70 kilometers far from Pokhara. She chose the Baba because he was a Dailt priest from whom she could get fair treatment. The Baba told her that Goddess Devi had entered her body and kept her for few weeks there. For the first time, she knew that Goddess Devi lived her body. For the few years, Maya Devi did not tell about her priestly to anybody in the village. People knew it when she healed her daughter who was caught by witch. Gaining the confidence by this treatment she started worshipping and acted as Devi. Initially the villagers could not believe her; some of them often would call her as witch. During the time there was no single person to worship in the village. Slowly and slowly people started coming to her for treatment and fate. At present Maya Devi is busy in worshipping and telling fate of people whole day. Healing the illness, removing witch from body, telling fate, correcting bad fate (Graha Katne) etc are her common performance. She has a separate worship room


which is decorated with variety of pictures and idols of Gods and Goddesses. She has been able to earn a good amount by this profession. Although Maya Devi is a priest, her food habit is not like that of an orthodox Hindu priest. She consumes meat, onions and garlic and wears common dress as normal people in the village do. She usually puts red tika and flowers on her forehead, which helps identify her as priest. Although lower castes have accepted her priestly, higher castes have not fully accepted. High caste people of the village come to visit her very rarely especially when they are seriously sick. However, from other villages all types of people come to visit her. Being an untouchable woman Maya Devi has been able to be a priest and has been challenging the orthodox Hindu traditions. She believes that participation of Dalits in religious activities helps reduce caste discrimination and gain equality to Brahmins.

Although, she has been able to become a locally known astrologer, she does not seem to follow sanskritic traditions regarding food, worship and ritual observance. She does not have Brahmanic food habit. For instance, she consumes meat of all animals common to Dalits, and onion and garlic which are most essential avoidance for a priest of Brahmins. The duty of regulation and management of the temples has been given to a committee formed only by Dalits. Such committee is a caste association which primarily advocates about the caste interests. The committee decides whom to employ as a priest, when to worship, what to offer etc, and also makes a whip its members to compulsorily participate the programs organized by it. Each caste association in each settlement was found to be working for the caste interests. In Fulbari- OSAC (oppressed society awareness committee), in Batulechour- Gandharwa Yuba Club, in Nadipur- Pariyar Sewa Samaj and in Rambazzar- Bishwokarma Samaj have been working for their respective caste interest. Their main objective is to uplift the caste people by fighting against caste discrimination and social injustice. These associations are stressing on the reformation of the traditions of their caste fellow which do not conform with that of the higher castes. Fasting The involvement of Dalit women in fasting has significantly increased in recent years, which was a very rare case few years ago. They observe fasting especially once a week particularly on Saturday or on Monday and on mangal chauthi. The necessity of fasting and the particular day are determined according to the astrologer (Jyotishi in local tongue). On the fasting day, they have bath and wear clear pure clothes early in the morning, and either go to a Peepal tree, or temple or tap according to the availability. They worship the Peepal tree, its trunk with the coil of thread seven in number. During the day, they do not eat rice and vegetable, they only eat milk, fruits, bread, and other items, which are considered as pure. Most of the women who fast are satisfied with the fasting because they have obtained for which they have fasting. Some women are found stayed fasting during Swasthani also.


It has not been more than two or three years Dalit women of Pokhara have started fasting on Mangal Chauthi (the fourth day after no-moon with Monday). A significant number are found to be fasting on the day. Below is a caste study of a woman who involves in various fasting. The Brahmin priest of the famous Hindu temple, where most of the Dalits go to perform worship said;
The religiosity of the Dalits has increased significantly now a days, especially in recent few years. Earlier they had fear of misbehavior from higher caste for worship which would not encourage them to be religious. They used to be hesitant to come and worship inside the temple and thus they used to throw the offerings from outside. They even used to hesitate to tell their caste. But, now, they do not hide their castes and offer the worship without any hesitations. They specially come to perform marriage, Bratabandha, Graha Santi and Vakal. And mostly, women come to worship the temple especially in Saturday and Monday.

Mangali Nepali, who worships daily at her home and have fasting occasionally, is a representative of the Dalit religious women. What and how she performs the worship and fasting has been presented.
Mangali Nepali, 45, living in Fulbari, has been taking fasting on Monday for at least ten years according to local astrologer (Jyotishi). Initially she was the only untouchable woman in the village to have fasting. Although there was famous temple, Bindhyabasini near her home, she used to go to a small temple because untouchable would not be allowed to enter Bindhyabasini temple. Even if she went, the priest would not accept the flowers and fruits. On Monday, early in the morning Mangali takes bath, changes cloth and collects flowers. She worships the God Ganesh kept on a wooden shelf on a wall in room. Along with the idol of Ganesh, picture of various Gods and Goddesses, few copper vessels with water are kept on the self. She worships there, glows incense and asks for the blessings. The main purpose of having fasting and daily worship is for the wishes of her two sons and against the fate of having co-wife (Sauteni Graha). She does not take food on that day, rather she takes milk, tea and fruits. Similarly, Mangali also takes fasting on Mangal Chauthi, which falls twice or thrice a year. Now she has been going to Bindhyabasini temple for worshipping for few years. Mangali is very much satisfied with the fasting and worship since what she had wished has been fulfilling. She suggests other Dalit women to involve in religious activities for it helps achieve what they wish, and remove caste inequalities.

It seems that daily worship and fasting have become fashion now a days in Pokhara for the few years especially for the teenagers. The temple has become a destination for them for refreshments. Visiting temple has been done not for religious merit but for entertainment.
Raju said, Performing religious activities have become a fashion now a days. Those who do not know the value and meaning of worship also go for worshipping. Small children, who do not know why fasting is done occasionally observe fasting. Especially fasting is done by married woman for the betterment of their husband and for bearing a child, but here more number of unmarried girls is observing fasting. My small daughter visits the temple every Saturday;


however she does not know why worship is done. This is due to the influence of Indian religious television channels for instance Aastha, whatever the channel says they copy here. You see people especially women in Nepal cry and leave food at the death of a fictitious hero in Indian tele-serial, but they do not concern even on the real death of minister in Nepal. You know, until few years age there was no system of wearing green bangles in Pokhara. When people saw it in Aastha channel they started wearing here. Now a days, every woman in Pokhara wear green bangles in Srawan. This is all due to Indian influence.

5.1.2 Ritual Adoption Bratabandha (a ritual to sanction sacred thread) Bratavhandha or Upanayana is a very important ritual in life of a Hindu which makes him a real Brahman. Brahmins are also called twice-born caste because Bratabandha gives a birth to him as Brahman. This ritual sanctions a man to wear sacred thread i e Janai. Bratabandha was only the privilege of Brahmins, it would be severely punishable if an untouchable caste is found wearing sacred thread. Nonetheless, at present, most of the Dalits in Pokhara have been performing Bratabandha for the few years. However, the tradition of wearing sacred thread is not traced among them. A boy without Bratabandha is illegible for marriage even among Dalits now a days. Normally Bratabandha is done at the age of ten to thirteen. All the castes of Dalits in Pokhara perform the ritual at home with the expenditure no less than is done in marriage. Father of a child whose Bratabhandha was undergoing said;
Bratabandha is most essential ceremony for us. I do not know when it started in our caste; I think it has been followed since many generations. But, the expenditure and number of invitees are increasing. The difference of rituals between Brahmins and us is that they wear Janai but we dont wear it. Janai is the property of Brahmins, it not that what they us we have to use. We should only follow our own culture.

Bratabandha in other villages in Kaski is done during marriage ceremony just for formality, but in Pokhara it is done as the Brahmins do. Although it seems that doing Bratabandha is the imitation of the Brahmins, it is actually not the same. They have been following the ritual since many generations. However, Dalit youths seem to be wearing Janai around their wrist on Janai Purmnima (an important festival of Brahmins to change the Janai). Some Dalits, especially Bishwokarma celebrate Janai Purnima by wearing Rakhi which is not actual Janai on their wrist. The tradition of wearing Rakhi is not due to the influence of Brahmins but by the influence of Indian culture. In, Dalits Rakhi is tied to brothers by sisters, whereas Jwain or Bhanja (son in law or cousin) offers the Rakhi in Brahmins. Hence, it is can be generalized that although wearing Rakhi and celebrating Janai Purnima it is not Sanskritization. Encouragement in Arranged and Temple Marriage Marriage for Dalits of the study area is an indispensable process in the society. They perform marriage according to Hindu rituals. Earlier, love marriage, marriage by


elopement (Poila Jane), widow marriage and polygamy were in practice. There is no remarkable difference in marriage process between the Dalits and higher castes. However, the value and place of marriage is slightly different. Marriage in Brahmin society is considered as very important affair and is regulated by very strict rules and regulations. While in Dalits it was liberal and parents did not give much emphasis on marriage of children, they did manage themselves. And, their marriages would not be held in temples. Nevertheless, the value and notion of marriage among Dalits have changed in recent days that seems conform to that of Brahmins. Arranged marriages have been given much priority. Marriage of their children has been considered as an important responsibility of parents. Most of the marriages of Dalits are held at temple now a days which was very uncommon earlier. Increasing temple marriage is not seemed due to influence of Brahmins but due to convenience and less expenditure than at home. 5.2 Rejection Cultural reformations of Dalits have been actively undergoing by changing their certain food habits which are considered as polluting by higher castes. Dalits, including politicians, intellectuals and laymen, all assert that it is also their traditions that made them inferior to the higher castes. So they assume that without reforming or changing their traditions which are bad (detrimental to them) they can not uplift the Dalit society and eliminate caste discrimination. In this connection, Chandra Bahadur said;
They (Dalits) eat dead animals, dirty cloth, speak vulgar words, and make house dirty. So, why are not they hated then? They manage enough money for alcohol and cigarettes but not for the education of their children, they always work for others but do not think for themselves, and they always quarrel at home due to alcoholism. Nobody made them Dalits, they themselves became Dalits by their own behavior. So, now if they have to uplift and gain equality to high castes, they must avoid such practices. And another thing I am most wondering- why there is untouchability among Dalits themselves? Why one Dalit caste discriminate another? Why nobody is trying to end this intra-Dalit discrimination? You (researcher) are just asking question to us or walking for elimination of it? First we have to be united to fight against the Brahmins.

Many Chandra Bahadurs are there who are anxious and aware about the intra-Dalit untouchability and their rights. They have been very enthusiastic about Dalit issues especially after the April movement. From most of the respondents I frequently faced a question- what is happening to Dalits now, which meant what we are getting from the government. They have hope of something better for them in Loktantra. 5.2.1 Rejection of foods Consumption of carcass was a common culture until a decade ago among the Nepalis (Sarki) of Pokhara. Especially, skinning and consumption of dead animals was the duty of Nepali according to the division of labor in Hindu social system. Buffalo, ox and cow used to be skinned and consumed. The skin of the animals was used to make shoes and Nara. Nara is most essential instrument for all castes in ploughing which works as a hook. Nepalis (Sarki) had got the rights of consuming dead cow although slaughtering it


was illegal and severely punishable, not less than that of killing a man. Pariyars (Damai) with poor economic background also were found to be consuming the dead animals. But, Bishwokarmas and Gandharwa did not consume the dead at all. At present, consumption of dead animals has disappeared from Pokhara. A caste association (now OSAC) played a significant role to disappear the tradition. How the association dealt with the carcass consumers was said by Lakshya Bahadur in this way:
We all Dalits gathered and decided not to consume the dead animals. And we made punishment system for those who consume it. And we even told the higher caste people not to offer the dead animals to Dalits for consumption. But, few Dalits did not obey the rules. One we videotaped the people involving in the butchering of the dead animals secretly. We displayed the video in the general meeting of all Dalits that humiliated the consumers. The carcass consumers were fined. Then, they promised that they would not involve in such activities then on. And we even called the Brahmin who offered the dead animal to the Dalits and interrogated him. He also confessed that he made mistake and promised not to offer then on. After that no one in the tole has been found consuming the dead.

Similarly consumption of buffalo has been given less emphasis. Sunars of Bishwokarma caste never consume buffalo because, according to them, it is not accepted by their ancestral God (Kul Deota). Other Dalit castes are also inclining towards chicken and goat for two reasons. One consuming buffalo has low social status, and another, their economic status has getting better because goat is more expensive than buffalo which is not affordable to majority of Dalits. The sacrifice of pig and buffalo in festivals and worship has been replaced by the goat now a days. Consumption of alcoholism by Dalits is the tradition they obtained from the Hindu rules of food. It is very essential drink in most of the rites and rituals of Dalits. It is often called as Jaat le Pai Aayeko meaning requires in death and other ceremonies. However, at present this ideology has changed its root. They assume that alcoholism is the main cause of their low social and economic position. Only the older generation is taking alcohol, although the frequency and intensity is decreasing. The new generation has totally left consuming alcohol. Those who consume, generally consume out of home. Quarrel, drunkards shouting and sleeping on the streets were the common features of a Dalit settlement until a decade ago. Now these features are totally absent in Dalit settlements in Pokhara. Caste associations are attempting to reduce alcoholism from the tole. Counseling to the drunkard and punishing them are the main way of reducing alcoholism. Similarly, pig-raising was also the common tradition of the Dalits in Pokhara. But at present, no one is involving on raising pig. Movement of pigs here and there in the village and its dung were the distinctive characteristics of a Dalit village in the past. Although they do not raise pig they consume it. And the use of pig in various festivals and rituals has been replaced by chicken and goat. Avoidance of pig-raising is due to its low social prestige and its pollution. One may assume that these characteristics are very common in the cities like Pokhara which is affected by modernization. But the avoidance on the above mentioned foods is not only the characteristic of Pokhara but also of rural Dalit villages. Dalits in rural villages also have been aware of and united to reform their tradition, which have low social status. 37

It is not easy to say here that this rejection is either due to influence of Sanskritic traditions or of any other reason. However, evidences show that it is mainly due to modern value system. Various factors are influencing it rather than Sanskritic. Many organizations such as NGOs, INGOS and caste associations are involving in eliminating alcoholism. Drunkards also got threats from the police. And, Maoist anti-alcohol campaign has become the most remarkable factor for the reduction of alcoholism. Although the campaign did little in Pokhara, it has a significant effect in rural parts. Disappearance of pig-raising is due to health point of view rather than Sanskritic. Education has also played a significant role in the rejection of their food habits. Educational level of Dalits has risen significantly in the recent decade which became a powerful force to change their traditions. The rejection of pork, buffs and alcohol by Dalits is not due to Sanskritic influence is supported by the fact that Brahmins have become liberal in consuming such foods. No one wonders to see a Brahmin consuming buff, pork and alcohol now a days. In such situation it is not necessary and reasonable for the Dalits to accept Sanskritic culture. Suraj said,
Now a days Brahmins drink more alcohol than us. They eat everything they get, either pork or buff or alcohol. We have left these things but Brahmins are busy accepting.

5.2.2 Rejection of Traditional Occupation Traditional occupation of Dalits such or sewing (Pariyar), iron-work (Kami), gold-work (Sunar), Katuwali (Pariyar), playing music (Pariyar), leather work (Nepali), Hali system etc are declining in a faster pace now a days. The occupation based on the traditional patron-client relationship is nonexistent in Pokhara. Occupation based on this relationship is disappearing even from the rural villages. Among the occupations of Dalits sewing and ornament making are seen respectable and better in terms of earning. Leather work of Nepalis and iron work of Kamis are totally disappeared from Pokhara. A good number of Gandharwas is involving as song and dance teachers in various private and government schools and music training centers, although singing in traditional way in which they used to visit door to door is totally lost. The main cause of declining of the traditional occupation of Dalits are; a) lack of modernization of their tools and techniques due to which they could not compete with foreign goods, b) the low social prestige of the occupation and it is generally thought that the occupation is done by low people, and c) it is very difficult to get the materials needed for the occupation such as skin for Nepalis and coal for the Kamis. The second seems to be the main cause because Dalits do not follow the occupation although it has a handsome earning. New generations are totally indifferent to their traditional occupation. The declination of Dalits towards their occupation can be seen in Ramus saying;
We work for Brahmins. We send our children for their service, but they send their children to school and make doctors and engineers. These Brahmins have lesser income than ours but they can save. We have more income, we expend all, and we do not expend the earning on education. Even a very poor Brahmin educates their children but we do not even if we are rich. And those cunnings (Brahmins) keep our children as plough-man and send their own children to


school. A Brahmin has become secretary of ministry who was my classmate. But I am still working the same. So now, we have to also give much emphasis on education and jobs related with this.

Many organizations which are working for Dalits are providing trainings to them other than their traditional occupations such as on driving, computer software and hardware, mobile repairing etc and encouraging them in other professions. And some Dalit activists argue that the occupation must be separated from the caste which only creates a ground for eliminating untouchability and their overall upliftment. Hence, it can be concluded that the declination of Dalits to their traditional occupation is the result of its low social prestige and ultimately its relation to caste system and hierarchy. 5.2.3 Rejection of caste based discriminations Bhattachan at el (2002) have listed 205 types of existing caste based discriminations Dalits are suffering. Among the castes based prejudices and discriminations untouchability is of the most severe type that prohibits a person of higher caste accepting food and water from a Dalit. Defilement of the person because of touching the Dalit requires a purificatory rite. Dalits had been denied from various opportunities like entering public places like temple, Gumba, schools, hotel, restaurant etc; touching water well and tap and use resources; eating and drinking together with higher castes; playing children of Dalits with that of Brahmins. However, in Pokhara such discriminations have been questioned and opposed by Dalits both in individual and organized way. Recently, they have been enjoying the access to public amenities like temple and water tap, however, discrimination like denial to enter house of high caste, attitudinal untouchability (Bhattachan at el, 2002) etc. are still prevalent. There are many castes of misbehaving and often expelling the Dalit renter by the house owner in Pokhara.
Anil, a college student renting a room in Brahmins house was told to leave the house after two days when his caste was disclosed. The house owner, a staff in district education office made a trick that the room was already given to others. He insisted he was not doing it because of caste. Anil opposed leaving room for few days, but finally forced to leave the room after a week when he did not get any solution. He reported it to the local journalist but the paper did not make news of it. He was many times denied the room because of his caste while searching new room for him. After all, he hardly got a room in a Dalit house to shift.

Although big clashes between the Dalits and Brahmins did not occur during the attempt to have access in public places, small and individual quarrels were frequent. Voices against caste discriminations have been raised strongly now a days. Caste associations and Dalit NGOs have been advocating the issues of Dalits and playing a significant role to eliminate discriminations. 5.2.4 Rejection of Hinduism A significant number of Dalits has converted into Christianity since they did not like exploitative and superstitious Hinduism, as majority of them said. There seems three reasons for the attractions of Dalits in Christianity; first, the frustration of Hinduism and


untouchability because in Christianity there is no visible discriminations and untouchability; second, to treat their illness they convert to Christianity because in it there is a belief that the disease that can be treated well if one goes to the refuse of Permeswor, God of Christians; and the third, the lure to money has also attracted Dalits to Christianity. It was seen that although they converted into Christianity they seem follow certain Hindu traditions such as celebrating Hindu festivals, attending Hindu rites and rituals, worship and belief in God etc. It seems that most of the Christian converters among Dalits are inter-caste couples. The reason behind it may be their exclusion from the society. Inter-caste marriage between two castes inside Dalit castes is also forbidden and the couples are not accepted by the society. Their children obtain separate caste name which is inferior to their father. Sabita, a Christian converter and with inter-caste marriage said;
We were not accepted by the family and society. Neither do they invite us in their ceremonies nor do they come in ours. So frustrated by the traditions of Hindus we converted into this religion. We left all the traditions of Hindus and now follow everything of Christianity. This religion is better, there is no any discrimination in it on the basis of castes, and they are very cooperative. We suppose, although we were victimized by the caste system, we do not let my children be victim of caste and know about it. For this reason, we converted in to this religion although we do not believe that conversion eliminates caste discrimination and emancipates Dalits.

Similarly some secular Dalits are there who did not favor Hinduism for the same reason. They argue that within emancipation of Dalits is impossible within Hinduism and they see Hinduism as the real cause of the oppression and domination of Dalits. In sum, Dalits of Pokhara are rejecting the practices that are based on caste based discrimination. Caste associations are playing significant role in opposing and reducing such discriminations. 5.3 Assertion Beside adopting and rejecting certain cultural practices Dalits of Pokhara seem to be claiming new practices. The claim has been made relating it to human rights which they are deprived of for long. As has been already stated that Dalits are forced to accept only certain traditions that were considered as polluting; are forbidden to enjoy public amenities like tap, forest, temple, schools etc and are deprived of national means and resource for long, they are not enjoying minimum human rights. Right based approach of Dalit movement has become popular for the past few years because many INGOs and NGOs are prioritizing and linking the issues to human rights. One NGO called Dalit Human Right Organization (DHRO) has been working for ensuring rights of Dalits and fighting against its violations. Fighting against violations of human rights has become one of the important aims of other Dalit NGOs and caste associations in Pokhara. Asserting such cultural practices play double roles; one, they can enjoy the long restricted traditions and the other, the opposition of the Brahmins is can be manifested. 5.3.1 Temple Entrance Building and worshipping temple has been already discussed as a process of reformation of culture at the beginning of this chapter. However, here temple entrance of Dalits will be discussed as a political process rather than merely a religious. It is called political 40

because the intention of entering temple remains in the strong disapproval and opposition of privileges of high castes. It is found that Dalits who do not have faith on religion also favor entering temples because, they assume, it questions the notion of caste system and hierarchy. Dalits were not allowed to enter the temple and worship in the past. This restriction still prevails in most of the villages in Nepal. For few decades, Dalits have been struggling to enter the temple in various parts of the country. No exception, Dalits of Pokhara also struggled to enter temples. There was not big opposition of Brahmins to the Dalits while entering the temple. Now, Dalits enter and worship all the temples without any hesitation in Pokhara. In Fulbari, Dalits triumphed to enter temple in the initiation of a caste association. The role of the association was told by its member in this way;
We did not have access to enter and worship the temple although we are also Hindus. We had to stay at a distance and throw our offerings from outside the door of the temple. They would scold us when we attempted to enter there. A dispute between us and them broke for the few days. Finally they were defeated. We called a meeting of the temple management committee, political leader and members of ward committee that decided that we can freely enter and worship the temple at any time without any obstacles.

5.3.2 Use of 'Thar' or Clan Name as Surname There was no tradition of writing thar (clan) as surname among Dalits in the past. They could not use it although they wanted because the society and the administration would forbid them. Only the Brahmins had such rights to use thar as surname. The Brahmins use Poudel, Subedi, and Ghimire etc as surname, while Dalits used Kami, Damai, Pariyar Bishwokarma etc. The thar similar to Brahmins also belong to the Dalits. Bishwokarma have such thar as Brailee, Ghimire, Diyali, Rasailee, Ghatane Sunchauri, Lamgade in Pokhara. Similarly, Pariyars have Guide, Naiwal, Sunam, Bagdas, Vitrakoti as thar. Nepalis have All the Dalit castes of Pokhara have been using these thar as surname in recent years. Although they wrote the thar after their name in personal use, officially it was not accepted until a few years ago. At that time thar was not allowed to write in citizenship for Dalits. After the government decided that Dalits could write their thar as surname, Dalits started writing it knowingly and unknowingly. At present, Gandharwa write Gayak as their surname instead of Gaine which was common earlier. Initially they used to write Gaine and that was followed by Gandharwa, and now by Gayak. Actually Gayak was not their real surname; it is Gandharwa they need to write. The tradition of writing Gayak was started after a Gandharwa wrote it because he was singer. The meaning of Gayak is singer. Bir Bahadur, in this regard said;
Around 2013 B S we attended the throne ascending program of the King Birendra for playing Sarangi. The king became happy with our Sarangi. Our talent and skill was appreciated by royal academy and they told us write as Gandharwa since we were the real Gandharwa as written in the Hindu epics. Then we started writing Gandharwa as our surname. After a few decades, I started writing as Gayak instead of Gandharwa since I was a Gayak, singer. After that all started writing Gayak as their surname. I used to sing songs so I wrote Gayak, but now those who do not know how to sing a song also write as Gayak.


A renowned singer in Batulechour has changed his surname into Kayastha, a surname of Newar. Kayastha is not their real surname. At present, the whole family has their citizenship in Kayastha. Similarly, Bishwokarma, Pariyars and Nepalis are also writing their thar as their surname. Kul Bahadur said how they wrote Pariyar and Suchikar instead of Damai as their surname;
Around 2009 B S, Dhan Man Sing Pariyar, leader of Nepali Congress came in the village. He was of Darjaleeng. We found that he was also Damai. He said Pariyar was better to say as surname. After that we started saying and writing Pariyar. Pariyars started writing Suchikar because they found it better and respectful than Pariyar. At present, Pariyars are writing their thar such as Guide, Naiwal, Sunam, Bagdas, Vitrakoti.

It seems that at the beginning they used Thar as surname to conceal their caste as Dalits because identifying their caste would harm in several cases. Ones caste would be the basis judging and treating him. After the democracy in 2046 B S writing Thar was made a campaign to acquire their rights. In my question of why they preferred surname as such, they replied that it is not only the Brahmins to write Thar as surname rather it is also them to enjoy the rights. However, recently it is seen that Dalits prefer to write their caste name instead of Thar because writing Thar may confuse for reservation seat that is yet to be implemented. 5.3.3 Claim of High Caste-Origin According to Hindu caste structure, Dalits are at the lowest level of caste hierarchy. They are considered to be born from the feet of the God Brahma, the God of creator, whereas Brahmins were born from the mouth of the Brahma. That is why the Dalits have to bear the weight of society serving other caste people as feet bear the whole weight of the body. But, few Dalits matched their caste name with the name of God to make them of high caste origin. Bishwokarma in Pokhara claim that they are the offspring of Bishowakarma God, the God of science and technology and they are not inferior to the Brahmins. God Bishwokarma has been frequently described in various Hindu epics. And, Pariyar also assert that they have highest status in caste hierarchy because they are much essential in all the ceremonies for playing music and sewing cloths. Hira Bahadur, in this regard said;
In fact, we are superior of all castes. We are headed in the first position in every ceremony such as marriages, worships and festivals. Without our presence any function in society can not complete. If we are not superior why would we have been headed the first? But later these cunning Brahmins made us inferior.

Thus, now a days Dalits are questioning their traditional caste status by making myth story of high caste origin. However this claim has been made in individual level. They have not demanded the sanction of high caste publicly in organized way. Educated Dalits are also questioning the caste hierarchy on the basis of material interpretation. They think that all the castes are equal, no one higher and lower, and caste system is made during feudalism to fulfil the interests of the feudal in the country.


CHAPTER - VI CONCLUSION Although present caste activities and socio-cultural changes among Dalits look like Sanskritization, it does not seem that Dalits are Sanskritizing while going carefully in it. The reasons behind it are multifarious; first, the traditions and practices Dalits are adopting are not true Sanskritic as defined by Sanskritic sculptures. Although they perform the rites and rituals of higher castes they do not follow the Sanskritic process. For instance, it is found that the Dalits have become priest but he/she does not have any change in food habits and customs. Most of the Dalit priests seemed consuming meat and alcohol, and not performing Sanskritic traditions such as daily bath, reading religious books, using Chandan etc. They still possess non-Sanskritic traditions in them. Second, Dalits do not favor caste system, instead, are searching egalitarian, non-Brahmanic society where the status is not determined by ones ritual merits and the caste. This statement does not conform to Sanskritization because a low caste should accept the caste system and the privilege of higher caste to be Sanskritized. But, Dalits are seeking political and economic power rather than the ritual power, and the faith on religion has been gradually disappearing. And third, Sanskritization, according to Srinivas, requires a group involvement not an individual. The Sanskritizing caste must claim high castes, and must achieve higher status, which do not seem to be present among Dalits in Pokhara. Sanskritic/non-Sanskritic confusion as raised by Staal (1963) has been central problem in studying Dalits as their traditions is the fusion of both. Although they did not have access to temples, they used to worship the Hindu Gods and Goddesses those similar to that of higher castes from beginning. Similarly, consuming pig does not pollute the Magars and Tamangs much as does the Dalits. And Magars and Tamangs have relatively higher ritual status. These arguments show that it is not reasonable to say that the traditions of Dalits are non-Sanskritic and impure. Moreover, at present, the high castes themselves have been avoiding Sanskritic traditions and are accepting the so-called non-Sanskritic traditions. For instance, it has been common for a Brahmin to consume alcohol, buffs and pork now a days which was strongly forbidden earlier. They have highly influenced by modern value system and their traditions and practices incorporate such values rather than as described by Sanskritic sculptures. So it is plausible to state here that Sanskritization of a caste can not occur if the destination caste (high caste) itself is avoiding Sanskritic traditions, and so is the case of Dalits. The socio-cultural changes among Dalits seemed to be occurring in two sub-processes, reformation and assertion. Reformation has been accompanied by adoption of certain practices which belonged to the higher castes earlier such as fasting, daily worship, performing Bratabandha, acting as astrologer etc and rejection of the practices which they thought were non-Sanskritic and polluting such as pig raising, alcoholism, traditional occupations etc. In the same way, Dalits seemed accepting certain practices that they thought were their rights. Temple entrance and worship, writing thar as surname, wearing janai etc have been conspicuous among Dalits that are claimed as their rights. These socio-cultural changes among Dalits seem to be influenced by two factors, modern values and disapproval of caste system and the privileges of higher castes. Reduction in pig-raising and alcoholism is due to the education and growing awareness of Dalits rather than Sanskritic influence. Similarly, temple entrance and worship, wearing Janai seem to


be occurring as an opposition of and question to high caste privilege and supremacy. In Dalits eyes, it was Brahmins who were torturing the Dalits by creating untouchability and the caste system for their benefits. Thus it can be concluded that these are the manifestations of the strong disapproval of caste system and hierarchy and thus, they like to destroy the castes system. New Legal Code 1963, Constitution 1990 and Interim Constitution 2007 all have treated everybody equally before the law and have ended the discriminations on the basis of castes at least in written form; however, it is still strong in practice. Religious primacy in state ruling has been eliminated constitutionally by the Interim Constitution 2007 declaring the state as secular. New economic opportunities such as foreign employment, government and private jobs, business etc have de-linked Dalits from their patrons i.e. higher castes. Similarly the governments systematic Five Years Plans of development has been giving priorities to Dalits which have helped them enter into new world values and thinking. Western education system based on modern value system has been accessible to Dalits and has increased their literacy rate significantly, which has made ground to question caste system and hierarchy. Parliamentary democracy and universal suffrage system have enabled Dalits to bargain and force the leaders and the government for their betterments. More importantly, Maoists campaigns against untouchability and caste discriminations have strongly threatened the caste system and hierarchy. And now caste neither encompasses ritual power nor economic and political power. All these changes have played a vital role in reducing the relevance and legitimacy of caste system and have encouraged Dalits exercise economic and political power rather than ritual power. In addition, the focus of Dalits now has gone to the acquisition of political representations and power in constituent assembly after April movement 2006. Now, it is perceived that the rural and traditional patron-client relationship and attitude have disappeared and shifted to another stronger patron, the state or government. Similarly the dependency of Dalits also has shifted to the state whose socialistic goals and commitment to uplift Dalits have led to expect much. They have conceived that it is only the state that can help them to better their life. At present, they are very hopeful that Loktantra surely emancipates them from the age-long oppression and domination of caste system and hierarchy. As a result, political power has been recognized as a major force to pressurize and lobby the government and the parties, and for reason Dalits have formed various caste associations and are actively involving in Dalit wings of political parties to gain the power. And, caste has been variable in politics. Political parties themselves have politicized the castes; caste and especially Dalit issues have been made central focus of all parties and have promised to include the Dalits in every structure of state and their party. Hence, as a consequence, Dalits are seeking political and economic power rather than ritual by means of Sanskritization.


Bibliography Ahuti, 2005. Hindu Samajma Jatiya Muktiko Prasna, In Nepalko Sandharvama Samajsastriya Chintan edited by Pratyus Panta and Meri Desan, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu. Bista, Dor Bahadur, 1993. Development and Fatalism, Orient Longman, Culcatta. Berreman, G. D, 1972. Hindus of the Himalayas, University of California Press, Berkeley. Bishwokarma, Dipak Jung and Min Bishwokarma, 2003. Nepalma Dalit Samudayako Sthiti, National Dalit Commossion, Kathmandu. Caplan, A. Patricia, 1972. Priest and Cobblers, Chandler Publishing Company, London Carroll, Lucy, 1977. Sanskritization, Westernization and Social Mobility: A Reappraisal of the Relevance of Anthropological concepts to the social Historian of Modern India, Journal of Anthropological Research 33, No. 4:355-71 Chhetri, Ganesh Prasad and Som Prasad Khatiwada, 2054 B.S. Hindu Samaj ra Dharma, Siwa Prakashan, Biratnagar. Dastider, Mollica, 1995. Religious Minorities of Nepal, Nirula Publication, New Delhi. Devkota, Prabodh M., 2005. Dalits of Nepal, Feminist Dalit Organization, Kathmandu. Dumont, Lewis, 1998 (1980). Homo Hierarchicus: The caste system and its implication, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Dutta, N K, 1968. Origin and Growth of Caste in India, Farma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, Culcutta. Gupta, Dipankar, 1991. Social Stratification, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Hertel, Bradley, 1973. Some Dimentions of Sanskritization: Belief, Practice and Egalitarianism among Hindus of the Gangetic Plain, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 12, No. 1:17-32 Jaffrelot, Christophe, 2000. Sankritization vs Ethnicization: Changing Identities and Caste Politics before Mandal, Asian Survey 40, No. 5:756-66 Jaffrelot, Christophe, 2005. Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability, Permanent Black and Himalayana, India Jha, Haribamsa, 2000. Nepalma Dalit Utthanko Rananiti, Centre for Economic and Technical Studies, Kathmandu.


Kauchhamagar, Balkrishna, 2060 B S. Chhapama Jatiya Mukti Aandolan, Janajati Manch, Kathmandu. Khatri, Prem Kumar, 2044 B S. Nepali Samaj ra Sanskriti, Sajha Prakasan, Kathmandu Kisan, Yam Bahadur, 2002. Nepalma Dalit Jatiya Mukti Andolan, Jan Utthan Pratisthan, Kathmandu. Lamgade, Bhojman, 2004. Nepalma Dalit Manabadhikarko Abastha-2004 and Kanuni Byabastha, Janautthan Pratisthan, Kathmandu. Lee, Raymond L M and R Rajoo, 1987. Sanskritization and Indian Ethnicity in India, Modern Asian Studies 21, No. 2:389-415 Luitel, Tilak Prasad, 2061 B S. Hindu Jatiko Utthan ra Patan, Bidhyarthi Pustak Bhandar, Kathmandu Luitel, Tilak Prasad, 2061 B S. Manusmriti, Pairabi Prakasan, Kathmandu. Lynch, Owen M, 1969. The Politics of Untouchability, Columbia University Press, New York and London Neupane, Govinda, 2005. Nepalko Jatiya Prasna, Center for development Studies, Kathmandu Nirula, 2005. Dalits: A Bruised Dignity, A.P.H Publishing Corporation, New Delhi. Onta, Pratyus, Pramod Bhatta, Biddhyanath Koirala, Khagendra Sangroula and C. K. Lal, 2058 B.S. Chhapama Dalit, Ekata Books, Kathmandu Pandey, Madhusudan, 2062 B S. Nepalka Dalitharu, Pairabi Prakasan, Kathmandu. Panthi, Kiran, 2061 B S. Nepalka Chadparbaharu, Pairabi Prakasan, Kathmandu. Quigley, Davis, 1999. The Interpretation of Caste, Oxford UNiversitt Press, New Delhi. Reuck, de Anthony and Julie Knight, 1967. Caste and Race: Comparative Approaches, J and A Churchil LTD. London. Regmi, Jagadishchanda, 2040 B S. Prachin Nepali Sanskriti, Sajha Prakasan, Kathmandu Rosser, Collin, 1996. Social Mobility in Newar Caste System, in Caste and Kin in Nepal, India and Ceylon edited by Cristoph Von Furer Haimendorf, Sterling Publishers PVT. LTD. New Delhi. Sharma, Janaklal, 2039 B S. HAMRO SAMAJ: EK ADHAYAN, Sajha Prakashan, Kathmandu.


Sharma, K.L., 1994. Social Stratification and Mobility, Rawat publication, India. Sharma, Prayar Raj, 2004. The State and Society in Nepal, Himal Books, Kathmandu. Singer, Milton, 1992. Reviewed work on The Cohesive Role of Sanskritization and Other Essays by M N Srinivas, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 112:14950 Srinivas, M N, 1952. Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Srinivas, M N, 1956. A Note on Sanskritization and Westernization, Far Western Quarterly 15, No. 4:481-96. Srinivas, M N, 1957. Caste in Modern India, The Journal of Asian Studies 16, No. 4:529-48. Srinivas, M N, 1972. Social Change in Modern India, Orient Longman Private Limited, India. Staal, J F, 1963. Sanskrit and Sanskritization, The Hournal of Asian Studies 22, No.3:261-75