Caste segregation in 2016

Recently I saw a Navratri event for my community/caste where it stated that ‘this mahoutsav is for the suthar community only.’ Check the ad out here.

Really? In 2016, members of my family (many of which are married to not just non-suthar but non-Gujarati’s too) would not be able to attend this event? I couldn’t attend this event well-known event with a friend?

When questioned, the answer I got was:

“Priya, to accommodate numbers and capacities we kindly request that this is for the Suthar community. We wouldn’t turn anyone away or require validity for being Suthar. As you know this is a free event and run purely on donations and volunteers. You should have come along as it was a great night or messaged in advance so we could have cleared this up.”

So that explained a little. But yet, the advert stated that the event was only for suthar’s. And if you had capacity issues, then state there are only limited places available!

I wouldn’t have been able to go anyway because I am on my period, and in Hinduism you cannot go to a place of worship if you are on your period, but that’s another minefield altogether.

The ‘job’ that a traditional suthar does (my dad did before he retired) is the work of a carpenter. In essence, without a suthar you wouldn’t have the Navratri festival because they would make the dandiya’s. I have huge respect for my community and have been to this garba before, it is excellent. But this saddens me, it saddens me that in this day and age you are OPENLY ADVERTISING THAT ONLY MEMBERS OF THE SUTHAR COMMUNITY CAN ATTEND THIS GARBA.

When you go to the mandir or any other temple, they don’t advertise that only brahmins or so-called higher caste’s can come in and pray – so why this? When I shared this advert, people were disgusted. I have never seen an event advertising only a certain community can attend. Yes, I have seen events organised by castes, but never saying other castes cannot attend.

If I was married to a non-Hindu/suthar/gujarati, would they want to come to this even if they *might* be let in. I doubt it. If I had children who were not fully suthar, then they would be put off. Navratri is a lovely, auspicious and popular festival, why are you segregating them?

Members of the suthar or any other community I urge you NOT to ever advertise this. As someone who is in media, and can see the difficulties faced by women day in, day out I don’t want to be one day be married to someone and not be able to take them to garba. I don’t want my children to miss out.

It has upset me and I had to share this. I hope that my community learn that in the future.

Priya Mulji

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