[Assam] Assam Varnas are Bamun & Khudir. Khudirs=Sudras of India; meaning slaves. Over 1000 years ago Budhhism lost out to Hinduism and Khudirs came into being in Assam. Is not returning to KhohozaJan ways of Pragjyotishpur Buddhists the way forward today?

Bartta Bistar barttabistar at googlemail.com
Tue May 29 04:35:52 PDT 2007

*One lakh people convert to Buddhism *


Prachi Pinglay

*"A step taken to protest against Government's apathy towards basic needs of
tribal people" *

·  *A majority who took the "Deeksha" were tribals and followers of Dalit
writer Laxman Mane *

·  *It could not be termed a move away from Hinduism *

*MASS CONVERSION: Tens of thousands gathered at Mahalaxmi Race Course in
Mumbai on Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar's
conversion to Buddhism. More than 1 lakh Dalits and tribal Hindus embraced
the Buddhist faith in what is considered the largest mass conversion in the
country. *

MUMBAI: A place marked by and perhaps limited to the elite and the popular
in Mumbai on Sunday witnessed nearly 1 lakh people from tiny pockets of
Maharashtra come together for a mass religious conversion rally at the
Mahalaxmi Race Course.

Around 4 lakh people attended the rally organised by the Republican Party of
India to declare their support for this conversion on the golden jubilee
year of Babasaheb Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism (Bauddha Dhamma

However, while mass support was more than obvious, the guests mentioned on
the invitation card — Dalai Lama and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao
Deshmukh — did not attend citing different reasons.


*NEW PATH: A Dalit woman taking part in a mass conversion ceremony in Mumbai
on Sunday. About 1 lakh Dalits and tribals converted to Buddhism in one of
the largest conversions in the country. At right, the new converts offer
prayers at the ceremony. *

A majority of the people who took the "Deeksha" were tribals and followers
of Sahitya Akademi winner and Dalit writer Laxman Mane, who has been touring
the State after converting to Buddhism in October 2006.

Laxman Mane said: "Thousands of people from 42 different nomadic tribes have
embraced Buddhism." He said tribals did not follow Hinduism and so it could
not be termed a move away from Hinduism.

However, he said it was a step taken to protest against the apathy of the
Government towards the basic needs of these people.

Several monks were present on the dais to offer prayers and "Deeksha" for
the thousands who converted. Buddhism does not believe in the Hindu gods,
hierarchy and idol worship. Republican Party of India President Ramdas
Athawale, who was chairman of the organising committee, informed people
about the rules and regulations of the new religion.

People came in vans, buses, and cycles, on foot from all over Maharashtra.
They were chanting "buddham sharnam gacchami," "dhammam sharnam gacchami,"
and other slogans in praise of Dr. Ambedkar and Gautam Buddha. The entire
area was dotted with colourful flags.

Suresh Alavane said: "We are bauddhas. We have to come to see Laxman Mane
and to attend this function from Pune. Dr. Ambedkar wanted this function on
December 16 in 1956 on the same venue but unfortunately he passed away just
10 days before that. Now his dream has come true."

Followers of Dr. Ambedkar kept streaming in from gate no.1 at the racecourse
from early afternoon till late in the evening. Police presence was minimal
and the organisers kept announcing directions for the thousands of children,
women and men to follow.

*The new converts offer prayers at the ceremony. *

No untoward incident

People sat on the ground when the seating space was fully occupied. There
was no untoward incident.

There were hardly any facilities such as public conveniences, food or water
stalls. There were several stalls selling and distributing literature about
Buddhism, Dr. Ambedkar, and the struggle of the Dalits and the minorities.
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