Upset over priests refusing to perform rituals at their ceremonies, a group of Dalits have trained themselves in the rituals and are now teaching them to Dalit youths in Kota and Bundi districts of Rajasthan.
The Dalit priests belonging to Valmiki community are conducting all religious rituals from births, weddings to death for all people irrespective of their caste.
Natulal Verma (58), a Dalit priest, said he had learnt the religious ceremonies after a priest refused to solemnise his relative's marriage. "An upper-caste priest refused to solemnise the marriage of my Dalit relative in Jaipur in the 90s. That incident led to my determination to be a priest," Verma said, adding that with his limited religious knowledge, he had performed the wedding ceremony at that time.
"At present, I am a fully-trained priest and have taught about 24 youths in Kota and Bundi districts how to perform religious ceremonies," Verma said. Verma and others newly-trained priests are now in great demand among Dalit and many households in the Kota and Bundi regions. "Some progressive priests are helping us," he said.