• Post category:Social Justice
  • Reading time:4 mins read

The meme, which I came across several days ago, is a Nepalese actor’s description of his experience of the way people viewed and treated him when he played the character of a Kami (blacksmith), a Dalit, in a commercial movie. The actor is a Bahun/Brahmin and therefore belongs to the highest caste in the extremely hierarchical Nepalese caste system.

Here’s what the meme says.

“A Bahun‘s son became a Kami” they said

I am the son of a Brahmin. In the movies Kabaddi and Kabaddi Kabaddi I played the character of Jagbir BiKa. [BiKa is short for Biswakarma, the surname of a Kami.] Being an actor, this wasn’t a big deal for me. But, to a society still stuck in their old ways, this seems to matter. After seeing me playing the role of a Dalit, my close friends and relatives made fun of me.

I had to put up with jeers such as, “Right, you a Brahmin’s son played the role of a Blacksmith!” and, “After all, you do look like a Blacksmith.”

I also have a number of stories from while on the set in Mustang. My house in the movie was, in reality, also a Dalit’s home. The owner thought I was a Dalit.

I used to go out and about the village in the one and only dirty attire of my character. Going shopping, the shopkeeper would size me up. Only after saying that I was an actor would I be offered a seat. The villagers used to stare at me constantly. These are experiences I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

If for playing a Dalit character for the silver screen I got told off so much, how much must a real Dalit suffer? Sometimes I think about that.

As for the tweet, it repeats the question at the end.

If for playing a Dalit character I got told off so much, how much must a real #Dalit suffer? #CasteSystem #Nepal Click To Tweet

I have written about Dalits, the caste at the bottom of the totem pole who are also called untouchable (achut). For a brief history of the caste system and how the low castes suffer from violation of some of their most basic human rights, view the video of my presentation at Univerversidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Read about what being “untouchable” means in this post. For the story of the life-long suffering and struggle of a Dalit man click here. For a post about how the logic of the caste system — which treats birth as an end — is spurious click here.

Birth is a beginning, NOT an end, as some Hindus would have you believe. #CasteSystem #Nepal Click To Tweet

If interested in more, try this link which will take you to a page containing links to blog posts about the system.

Part of the solution to this social problem is education as I argue in this post. To that end COMMITTED is providing educational assistance to some Dalit children in our project site in Thangpalkot.

Another part of the solution is raising awareness. It’s to that end that I write as often as I do about the issue.

And why do I do all this? I do them because I experienced discrimination both growing up in Nepal and abroad, and want to do as much as I can to make sure that the next generation of youngsters, such as my little nephew, don’t face what I had to face.

Have you had similar experiences? If so care to share below?

If not, what do you think about Nepal’s caste system? What do you think needs to be done? Care to share below?



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