BBC NEWS | South Asia | Low-caste Hindus adopt new faith
The events in the central city of Nagpur are part of a protest against the injustices of India’s caste system. By converting, Dalits – once known as Untouchables – can escape the prejudice and discrimination they normally face.
Hindu scriptures separate people into Brahmin priests, warriors, farmers and labourers and artisans, while the rest are beyond definition — literally untouchables who perform the most “degrading” jobs such as tanning of animal hides.
Similar mass conversions are taking place this month in many other parts of India. Several states governed by the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, have introduced laws to make such conversions more difficult.
Hindus form 80 percent of secular India’s billion-plus population while Muslims account for over 13 percent, Christians less than three percent and religious minorities such as Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis make up the rest.