A day after Congress MP Kumari Selja caused an uproar between the ruling party and the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha when she claimed that she was “asked about her caste” on her visit to the Dwarka temple in Gujarat as Cabinet minister, Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani has said that Selja’s remarks were “surprising and astonishing” as it is “customary” to ask about caste in a “holy shrine” and not “humiliating”
Nathwani, who is a second-term Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand is also the Vice Chairman of Dwarka Mandir Vyavasthapan Samiti. Nathwani posted a reply to Selja’s Monday comments in the Upper House on his official Facebook account. He stated, “With due respect to her, as the Vice Chairman of Dwarka Mandir Vyavasthapan Samiti, I would state that I have not come across any such incident where a devotee has felt insulted. There is nothing humiliating in a Tirth Panda asking about the caste of a devotee to find out his/her ‘Gotra’ (family root).”
Nathwani, posted his comments on the social media site along with a picture of the Dwarka temple captioned, “Dwaka is an ancient Holy Shrine: Asking caste is customary, not humiliating”. Nathwani’s post further stated: “Like we have family doctors, family lawyers, etc. in modern days, having family priests is also a tradition among Hindu families. Pandas have records of their clients’ generations of certain castes on which they have the right of Dakshina (remuneration of Brahmin for performing pooja, etc.). Even if one Panda attends a client of other caste, he will pass on the ‘Dakshina’ to the Panda who holds the right. This is a normal practice at all major Hindu shrines & pilgrim places. Even today, Pandas move to far off places to visit their clients on certain occasions to get support for higher education for their children, marriages, etc. in the family.”
Nathwani stated that the controversy on the issue of the Priests asking for the devotees caste in Dwarka was “unnecessary” as it was a social norm. Nathwani said, “It is a part of the societal system that we have inherited. There is nothing wrong if someone asks the caste of a devotee. It is as innocent as asking for an introduction. Raising such issues only creates flutter. The controversy on the issue therefore is unnecessary.”
On Monday, Selja, while participating in the Upper House debate on ‘Commitment to the Constitution’ had claimed that she was asked her caste when she visited Dwarka, leading to arguments between the ruling and opposition sides. Selja had said, “I am dalit, but I am Hindu. I feel like visiting temples. I wanted to go to Dwarka temple. I have visited hundreds of temple. (I visited) Dwarka temple, I was Cabinet Minister. I was asked about my caste,” she said while participating in debate on ‘Commitment to the Constitution’.
Members of the Treasury benches had objected to the Selja’s allegation who was backed by Congress leaders in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.