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When thousands took to Buddha's path

May 25, 2007
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of an unspiritual situation. It is the opium of the people.
- Karl Marx.

The oppressed finally broke their shackles at the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai on Sunday. Dressed in white outfits and dark blue scarves, Dalits from across Maharashtra turned up in thousands to renounce Hinduism and walk the path of Buddhism.

Failing to find an identity in the caste-dominated Indian society even 60 years after independence, about 50,000 Dalits converted at the function, which also commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism.

Reportage and photographs: Vipin Vijayan

Image: Busts of Buddha and Dr B R Ambedkar, placed on stage at the ceremony
Also see: 'India has failed to uphold Dalit rights'

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