By R.S. Narayanaswamy
?Dalits are part and parcel of Hindu society but they have been neglected for years. There is a need to uplift them and also make them feel that they are part of Hindu society,? said Shri Jayendra Saraswati, the Kanchi Shankaracharya. He was speaking at a conference of religious leaders and heads of mutts held at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu during the 10-day Mahamaham festival, which began on March 6.
The Mahamaham festival has been going on for centuries. Over 25 lakh pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and other states had a dip in the sacred tank of Kumbakonam this year. It is believed that a dip at the Kumbakonam tank amounts to bathing in all the sacred rivers. There is a belief that the Lord Shiva himself allowed all sacred waters of the universe to be contained in a pot before the deluge (yuga pralaya) and had poured it into the sacred tank of Kumba-konam after the deluge.
At the festival, the Kanchi Shankaracharya blessed a group of Dalits and helped them in having a dip in the sacred tank. He expressed concern over the mentality of certain people of Hindu society who still feel some people of their own blood as untouchables. The untouchability has caused a major loss to Hindu society as well as the country, the Shankara-charya added.
The local unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) played a key role in successful completion of the event. Nearly, 2,00,000 pilgrims received food and water packets prepared by the VHP activists. Thousands of posters and leaflets carrying the Hindu agenda filled the walls of the city and also the walls around the sacred tank. The whole city was turned saffron by the VHP activists.
Speaking at the conference, Ashok Singhal, Working President of VHP, said that the river festivals like the Pushkarma, Kumbha Mela, and Mahamaham united the Hindu society. He stressed the need to implement the Hindu agenda propounded by the VHP. The two-day conference demanded a central legislation for total ban on cow slaughter, ban on conversion, Hindu orientation in school textbooks and reconstruction of Shri Ram temple at Ayodhya.
Srilasri Shanmugha Desika Gnanasambandha Paramacharya Swamigal, head of the Dharmapuram mutt, presiding over the conference, asserted that the rights of Hindus must be voiced fearlessly. He demanded release of temples from government control.
Ooran Adigal, a Margdarshak Mandal member, also highlighted the plight of temples and the irreligious attitude of the government officials in temples. Sri Paranjothi Swamigal urged total ban on cow slaughter all over the country.