The famous Parsuram temple in the Jaunsar Bawar region in Garhwal, Uttarakhand is all set to allow Dalits and women, two groups that were barred from entering the temple for nearly 400 years, into its premises, The Times of India reported.
The management of the Parsuram temple has announced that "everyone will in future be welcome".
For Dalit leaders and activists, this is however a small win in their fight against discrimination. They told the TOI that 339 other temples in the region still have the ban in place.
According to the temple management, the decision to lift the prohibition has been taken "in a bid to move with the times". Jawahar Singh Chauhan, Chairman of the committee, told TOI "This region is on the path of progress. Our literacy rate has gone up and people want scenarios to change."
Justifying the prohibition, Chauhan added that there was no official rule barring Dalits from entering the temple. "Dalits are hesitant to enter the temple premises because of certain beliefs. We want to send them a message that everyone is equal before the Almighty and no one can be stopped from entering a place of worship," he said.
However, Dalit leader Daulat Kunwar countered Chauhan's claim stating Dalits were often forcefully stopped at the gate of the temple.
"They have finally given an official confirmation that the ban has been lifted. We have been raising this issue for the past 13 years. We welcome the move but there are 339 other temples in the region which also need to give their approval for the entry of Dalits," Kunwar told TOI.
There have been several protests by Dalits in the last few months against such strictures in temples. The management also said that animal slaughter will be stopped in the temple, adds the report.
The Parsuram temple's move comes amidst a raging debate on whether or not menstruating girls and women should be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.