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Dalit History Month

By Priya N. Translation from English to Malayalam by M.Gautam

“കരഗം (കരഗാട്ടം എന്ന തമിഴ് നാടോടി നൃത്തരൂപം) ആണ് എന്റെ ജീവിതം”, അവ‌ൾ ആവേശത്തോടെ പറഞ്ഞു, “സ്വന്തമായി ഒന്നുമില്ലാതിരുന്ന, ആരോരും കൂടെയില്ലാതിരുന്ന ഒരു സമയത്ത് എന്റെ കൂടെയുണ്ടായിരുന്നത് അത് മാത്രമായിരുന്നു. ഞാന്‍ എന്നും ആദ്യം ഒരു ഒരു ന‌ർത്തകി തന്നെ ആയിരിക്കും.” തമിഴ്നാട്ടില്‍ നിന്നുള്ള ആദ്യ ഭിന്നലിംഗക്കാരിയായ ഫാ‌ർമസിസ്റ്റ് ശ്വേത കളിയും ശാന്തിയും കഥാ‌‌ർസിസും കണ്ടെത്തുന്നത് നൃത്തത്തിലാണ്.

ഒരു ഫാർമസിസ്റ്റ് ആവാനുള്ള പഠനവും തുടർന്ന് തോഴിലിൽ പ്രാദത്ഭ്യം തെളിയിക്കാനുള്ള ശ്രമങ്ങളും ശ്വതയെ സംബന്ധിച്ച് എളുപ്പമായിരുന്നില്ല. തമിഴ്നാട്ടിൽ ജാതീയമായ അടിച്ചമർത്തലുകൾ ഇന്നും ശക്തമായി നിലനിൽക്കുന്ന ഒരു പ്രദേശത്താണ് അവൾ വള‌ർന്നത്. പ്രശസ്ഥനായ ദളിത് നേതാവ് ഇമ്മാനുവൽ ശേഖരൻ കോലചെയ്യപ്പെട്ടത് അവളുടെ ഗ്രാമത്തിൽ നിന്നും അധികം ദൂരെയല്ല. ‌

അടിമത്വത്തിനും കൂലിത്തൊഴിലിനും നിർബദ്ധിതരായിരുന്ന ഈ പ്രദേശത്തെ ദലിതരുടെ ജീവിതം ഭൂപ്രഭുക്കന്മാരുടെ നിയന്ത്രണത്തിലായിരുന്നു. ശ്വേതയുടെ മാതാപിതാക്കളും തോഴിലാളി വ‍ർഗ്ഗത്തിൽ നിന്നുള്ളവരായിരുന്നു. തമിഴ്നാട്ടിലെ…

Art and Concept by @chandrakari (instagram). Voice Artist @laya.chandralekha (instagram)

Artist’s Statement

The ghost of Nangeli tells her story for the first time in this animated monologue.

Nangeli was an Ezhava woman in Kerala who cut of her breast to protest the breast tax. The breast tax was not a tax lower caste women had to pay for covering their breasts, but was one of the many taxes that kept lower caste people in debt and indentured labour. Nangeli is part legend part historical figure. Depends on who you ask.

This monologue wanted to ask: why did Nangeli cut off her…

लेखन अनीता दास .अंग्रेजी से हिंदी में अनुवाद गौतम

Original article in English can be found here

“नमोशूद्र स्ट्राइक”, शशि मेमरी द्वारा कलाचित्र, 2021

#दलित_इतिहास_माह में आज हम वर्तमान के बांग्लादेश के नमोशूद्रों को नमन करते हैं, जिन्होंने अपनी परिस्थितियों को सुधारने के लिए दलित एकता की शक्ति को संगठित करने और प्रभावी बनाने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई।

इतिहास में लम्बे समय तक, नमोशूद्रों ने हिंदू और मुसलमान दोनों की बहुसंख्यता वाले क्षेत्रों में अपनी जनजातीय पहचान बनाए रखी। कालांतर में, कई अन्य जनजातियों की तरह, उनका समुदाय भी ब्राह्मणीकरण से प्रभावित हुआ जिसने उन्हें जाति व्यवस्था के बाहर ला खड़ा किया और उन्हें उत्पीड़न का शिकार…

by Yalini Dream and Sajeevan Jeyakanthan

This piece was first published by The Blueprint. It is republished by Dalit History Month with permission.

Image via தேவThasan

“துப்பாக்கி நிழலில் சாதியம் மறைந்திருக்கிறது. மரித்துவிடவில்லை”

“Thuppakki nizhalil sathiyum marainththirukkirathu. Mariththuvidavillai.”

“Caste is hidden in the shadow of the gun. It has not died.”

- Dominic Jeeva

Dominic Jeeva, famously known as Malikai Jeeva, was a well-loved anti-caste activist and canonical figure from the leftist strand tradition of Sri Lankan Tamil literature known as ‘mutpoku ilakkiyam’ (progressive literature). …

by Kushal Choudhary

Hima Das, 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere, Photo by Erik van Leeuwen, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Hima Das is a sprint runner from Assam who currently holds the Indian national record in the 400 m sprint category. A 21-year old Dalit woman, she has competed in many international events and has been a consistent sprint runner winning several titles. Her national record was achieved in the 2018 Asian Games.

Hima was born on 9 January 2000 in a small village called Kandhulimari, near the town of Dhing in the state of Assam. Her parents, Jonita Das and Ronjit Das are rice farmers. Ronjit Das, her father, was the earliest of Hima’s coaches,and began…

By Anita Mahay

Front Cover, An Onward Journey, Photo by Anita Mahay

Throughout history, immigrants around the world came to the United States in search of democracy, freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality. These are the reasons that my grandfather, Kartar Chand, too came to America in search of these ideals.

Casteism

Back in India where he was from, the caste system has led to unimaginable division among the people, touching all corners of society, from the education system to job accessibility. It has essentially kept those of higher castes in control and deprived lower castes of opportunities for a better life, and also of basic respect as human beings.

By Divya Chandrasekaran

“Oppari”, Art by Aravind Raju, 2021

An Oppari is a mourning song or rhythmic lament sung by women at funeral gatherings. They are often songs sung by oppressed caste women who are surviving family members. But there is also a tradition, among oppressor caste households, of hiring oppari singers to sing at their homes when a death has taken place in their families. In both cases, an oppari is paired with parai, a traditional music instrument, known as a precursor to certain kinds of drums and other percussion instruments.

Given my unique experiences and up-close insight of my own family into this tradition…

by Kushal Choudhary

Ustad Bismillah Khan at a concert in 1964, Photo by Robert Garfias, via Wikimedia Commons

Ustad Bismillah Khan was a world-famous shehnai player whose musical legacy continues to shine into the hearts of the people of the subcontinent. His incredible career of more than eight decades earned him the highest of civilian honours such as the Padma Vibhushan in 1961 and the Bharat Ratna in 2001

By Lydia Jayakumar

Front Page, Mooknayak 31 January 1920, Photo from Wikimedia Commons

First published on 31st January 1920, over 101 years ago, Mooknayak was a newspaper founded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Mooknayak, which literally translates to ‘leader of the voiceless’ was written in Marathi and published fortnightly from a working class neighbourhood called Parel in Bombay.

Chhatrapati Shahuji, the Maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Kolhapur, financially assisted in the setting up of the newspaper, with an initial funding of Rs 2,500.

In many ways, Mooknayak was the direct opposition to the Brahmanical caste ideology prevalent in the press of the time. The 1920s were a transformative time…

By Kushal Choudhary

Swami Achuttanand, Founder of the Adi-Hindu Movement

Moving into the 20th century, industrialisation in the United Provinces, now the regions of northern India, was the massive force that called for large scale migration of subalterns into cities looking for work in factories, better healthcare and education.

In these new spaces of employment and occupation, the Dalit communities like the chamar, bhangi and dom people tried to find new opportunities relative to what was offered to them in the villages. What they found, unfortunately, was that there too, caste ensured that they were limited to the menial lowly work of domestic servants, sweeping, leather work…

Dalit History Month

Redefining the History of the Subcontinent through a Dalit lens. Participatory Community History Project

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