Dalit conversions on mass-scale do take place occasionally in India. It happened on Sunday again in Mumbai. This is being said as the biggest mass conversion in modern Indian history. Thousands of Dalits and Tribals changed their faith to Buddhism at Mahalaxmi Race Course to mark the 50th anniversary of the conversion of their leader Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.
The tradition to escape from the rigid Hindu caste system will have a long time effect on political as well as social structure of India. In recent past thousands of Dalits and tribals different parts of the country have reportedly adopted Buddhism. This may be called as a practice of contention of their identity to influence Indian politics in a big way.
According to the report, Dalits arrived in loaded buses into the Mahalaxmi Race ground. Dalit writer Laxman Mane led the Men, women and children from almost 42 different castes to Mumbai to initiate them into Buddhism. At evening it was counted that at least 50,000 dalits and tribals converted in Buddhism. Dalits constitute some 16 percent of India’s one billion-plus population and more than a fifth of Maharashtra’s population.
Babasaheb Ambedkar Pratishthan organized the program and the Buddhist leaders such as Rahul Bodhi addressed the thousand of people gathered there. The dalits were chanting ‘Jai Bhim’ slogans loudly. The rally was being said not only the simple religious ceremony, but Maharashtra’s Dalit leader, Ramdas Athawale, who claim Ambedkar’s true legacy, showed his mass base to other leaders also.
Tibetan spiritual leader and world’s best-known Buddhist Dalai Lama, who was supposed to be there to address the ‘largest religious conversion in modern India’, did not come to the function. The huge gathering of Buddhist monks, came from different parts of India, were actually waiting for his arrival.