More than 300 Dalits today embraced Buddhism in Ahmedabad and Vadodara on the occasion of Ashoka Vijaya Dashami, the day the ruler is said to have pledged non-violence and converted to the religion, coordinators of the programmes said.
Around 200 Dalits, fifty of them women, converted to Buddhism at a programme organised by the Gujarat Buddhist Academy here, said the organisation’s secretary Ramesh Banker. “Deeksha (initiation) was given by a Buddhist religious head from Kushinagar, the place where Lord Buddha gave up his body to attain Parinirvana,” Banker said.
At a function in Vadodara, over 100 Dalits converted to Buddhism. Pragna Ratna, a monk from Porbandar, gave them the Deeksha, said Madhusudan Rohit, coordinator of the event. “There wasn’t any particular organisation behind this program…over 100 persons converted voluntarily,” said Rohit, who is the zonal coordinator of the Bahujan Samaj Party.
“We chose Sankalp Bhoomi (in Vadodara) to organise the conversion as it was here that Babasaheb Ambedkar had, on September 23 a century ago, spent five hours before leaving the city and also his job as the Dewan of the royal Gaekwad family to launch his fight against untouchability,” Rohit said.
“Ashok Vijaya Dashmi is important for us as on this day Ambedkar embraced Buddhism with lakhs of people in Nagpur in 1956. Ambedkar chose Vijaya Dashmi as it was on this day that Emperor Ashok had converted to Buddhism,” he said.