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The Cultural Erasure of Caste

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The Cultural Erasure of Caste: Ambedkar, Dalit Panthers, and Global Networks of Solidarity

As Hindus across the world celebrated Holi last week, few contended with the anti-feminist and caste-ridden roots of this internationally observed spring festival. According to the Puranas (sacred literature written by the ancient Hindus), Holi commemorates the immolation of a Bahujan woman, Holika, by a racially pure, morally virtuous, upper-caste male Hindu deity. As part of contemporary Holi festivities, in several regions of India, a scarecrow is set on fire the night before Holi—a practice called Holika-Dahan—to recreate the mythological burning of Holika. On the morning of Holi, the smearing and drenching of colours wash away the sins of the past. The popular lore of Holi symbolises a neat victory of the racially pristine and morally virtuous Aryan Hindu over the evil of the indigenous, local, and ‘lower’ races—the ancestors of present-day India’s religious and caste minorities.…


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