Thousands of Dalits embrace Buddhism in Uttar Pradesh, India

by Faiz Rahman Siddiqui & Abhinav Malhotra,TNN, Oct 11, 2008

KANPUR, India -- Amid the renewed focus on conversions post-Kandhmal violence, nearly 10,000 Dalits embraced Buddhism at a Baudh Diksha ceremony in Pukhranya village near Kanpur in the presence of former Himachal Pradesh governor Mata Prasad, Acharya Swami Sandesh Bhalekar and several Buddhist monks from Madhya Pradesh.

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"From today, we will not worship any Hindu god or goddess, including Lord Rama. We will abide only by the principles of Lord Buddha.

This is my new birth," said Shakuntala Kamal of Rura village after Thursday's ceremony.

President of Bhartiya Dalit Panther Party, Dhani Rao, said the ceremony was conducted in accordance with the teachings of B R Ambedkar.