What California’s Ravidassia community believes and why they want caste bias outlawed

by | Jun 7, 2023 | Religion

(AP) — In California, members of an under-the-radar, minority religious community are stepping into the public eye to advocate for making the state the first in the nation to outlaw caste bias.They are the Ravidassia — followers of Ravidass, a 14th century Indian guru who preached caste and class equality. There are about 20,000 members of the community in California, most of them in the Central Valley.
Guru Ravidass belonged to the lowest-rung of the caste system formerly considered untouchable and also known as Dalit, which means “broken” in Hindi. Today, many Ravidassia members share that caste identity, but they are hesitant to make that widely known, fearing repercussions for being exposed to the larger community as “lower-caste.”
Members of the Fresno Ravidassia community say publicly championing the anti-caste bias legislation is worth the risk, noting that fighting for equality is part of their history and their spiritual DNA.
The faith itself emerged in response to the societal exclusion of the lowest caste members, including persistent roadblocks to landownership, said Ronki Ram, professor of political science at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India. Caste-based discrimination was outlawed in India in 1947.
Ravidass was an Indian guru, mystic and poet who was one of the most renowned figures in the North Ind …

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