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Dom Raja of Varanasi(live near Manikarnika Ghat) passes away Aug 26th, 2020 from Times of India

Dom Raja of Varanasi(live near Manikarnika Ghat) passes away

Varanasi: Dom Raja Jagdish Chowdhary, who was one of the proposers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha election from Varanasi seat, passed away after a prolonged illness on Tuesday. He was 55.

On the demise of Dom Raja, PM expressed his grief. In his tweet, he said, “Extremely saddened by the demise of Dom Raja Jagdish Chaudhary of Varanasi. He settled in the culture of Kashi and was the conductor of the Sanatan tradition there. He worked for social harmony throughout his life. May God give peace to his soul and give the family the strength to bear this suffering.” Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also condoled his death calling it a major loss.

People started gathering at Chowdhary’s house at Tripura Bhairvavi Ghat on the banks of Ganga to pay homage.

He was the head of the ‘Dom clan’ (pyre burners or cremators) in the city having around 600 doms performing last rites at Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat, and over 5,000 members in the community including women and children.

According to legend, king Harishchandra had sold himself to Kallu Dom in Varanasi and worked as his helper at the cremation ground. The heads of the clan are regarded as the Dom Rajas, the keepers of the sacred flame for the cremation of Hindus.

Despite being an important section of the Hindu society, the doms are remembered only during death, and they are pushed to the margins of mainstream society facing stigma.

After PM’s nomination filing on April 26, 2019, Chowdhary had said that for the first time he and his community had been recognized by a political leader, and that too by the PM himself. He had expressed his hope that the PM’s gesture would bring a change in their life.

It had been a pain for them that they are not invited in wedding or any other social gathering due to being untouchable. But things started changing. In December 2019, Chowdhary was invited as the chief guest in a function organised at Panchganga Ghat for the title song release of Kashi Ghat Walk, an initiative taken by a neurologist at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Prof Vijay Nath Mishra. He said that the Dom Raja gladly accepted the invitation and took part in the function.

The Dom Raja family looks after the affairs of both the cremation ghats in the city. Due to the big size of the family, a member gets work once in a week or 10 days.

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