Barely able to speak in Hindi or Marathi,Rakhuma,18 and her husband Girish Madiga,19,jostled their way from Dadar station to Chaitya Bhoomi to pay homage to Dalit icon B R Ambedkar. The newly-wed boarded a train from Gulbarga to come to Dadar Thursday. It was Rakhumas first train journey. I had only been to the railway station before this. It was a strange feeling, said Rakhuma.
Married just a few months ago,the couple thought it apt to pay homage to Ambedkar. I had only heard that lakhs throng the city. Today,I saw it,too, said Girish,a carpenter in Kodagnur village in Gulbarga district. The couple said they would take the opportunity to explore Mumbai,too.
Making the best use of government facilities,including free travel through public transport,many visitors stay back for a few days. When do we get this chance? I had last come to Mumbai with my son. He had to shell out Rs 2,000 for our travel and accommodation. After paying homage,we generally stay for two days and then return home, said Shanti bai,from Mehsana in Gujarat. Her son is a clerk at the municipal corporation there. This year,he has promised to take me and his wife to Worli seaface, she said.
Ambedkars name is enough to mobilise people. People do not even care about food or sleep. They board any train or bus that will bring them to the Mumbai. It is one day that every Ambedkarite wants to have a glimpse of the place where this great man was cremated, says Baburao Sangle. Sangle is visiting the Chaityabhoomi for the 19th consecutive year. Along with others from his area,he hires water tankers for the crowd.
Which other leader,living or dead,can claim to be such a crowdpuller, asks Sridhar Kamble,a student at Mumbai University. People come in batches,maintain discipline and leave the city, Kamble adds.