Chaityabhoomi: A celebration of Dalit identity

Tens of thousands of Dalits congregate for one of India's most progressive cultural events in the city of Mumbai.

Javed Iqbal |

Mumbai, India - Thousands of Dalits, the Indian caste formerly considered as untouchable, arrive in Mumbai each year on December 6 to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, a Dalit icon and architect of the country's constitution.

They come from across the country to gather at a memorial dedicated to Ambedkar known as Chaityabhoomi.

For Dalits, it is an act of assertion over public space, defiance against oppression and a celebration of identity.

Slogans such as "Victory to Ambedkar" can be heard all the way from the memorial to the Dadar railway station.

Many of Ambedkar's books, pamphlets and quotations are displayed at the hundreds of stalls set up for the occasion. 

There are also commemorations of other anti-caste leaders - from Jyotiba Phule to Kanshiram - and condemnations of the most recent killings of Dalits by dominant castes.

This year was the 59th anniversary of Ambedkar's death.

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