Old man ostracised for eating with lower castes in Odisha

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Harabhanga (Boudh), Mar 30:

The digital revolution and scientific advancements have seemingly failed to downplay the social evils deep rooted in the society as a glaring example of caste discrimination has come to the fore in an Odisha village.

old manA septuagenarian–Laxman Bagarti—has been a victim of his own people. The 70-year-old man from Rajing village under Puruna Cuttack panchayat in Harabhanga block in Odisha’s Boudh district was ostracised from his family for accepting hospitality at a fellow villager’s home belonging to a different caste.

Laxman had taken food at a villager’s place belonging to a lower caste, a few years back. When his family members came to know about this, they threw him out of home and slammed the door on his face.

He was left to fend for himself despite having four married sons and wife at home. Since then, he has been living a life of a nomad.

Finding no way out, he took to ‘Naam-Sankirtan’ (Devotional singing in praise of Lord) as a wandering minstrel.  He used to tour neighbouring villages and feed him through alms.

However, he fell sick in a neighbouring village a few months back, probably due to lack of nourishment. Gracious enough, the villagers dropped him at his abode only to be rejected once again. After all these years, the family members did not have change of heart and were adamant enough not to let him in.

The frail man had to take shelter in the veranda of his ‘sweet home’ in which he would have invested his sweat and blood besides loads of emotions.

With his mobility restricted due to deteriorating health, he has taken refuge in a fellow villager’s veranda.

The almost lifeless greybeard caught in the phantasmagoria of life seems to be waiting for his death as his health has been failing since last week or so with no medical attention coming his way.

Meanwhile, the villagers have demanded that the district administration and health department should take necessary steps to provide him medical care and relocate him to an old age home.

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