Cities can bring freedom from the caste system

Vibhuti Narain Rai writes about the changes villages are undergoing in this neo-liberal age and the continuing rural-urban migration. He says the caste system turned villages into hell, and the cities, which are to a large extent free from this institution, can be made more human

I was going to have bhatwan after a long time. ‘Bhatwan’ is a simple meal of dal and rice – with a stew of mashed potato (chokha or barta) on the side at the most and, depending on the status of the owner of the house, a dash of homemade ghee. Once a while, you are served curd, too. ‘Bhatwan’ gives the women of the house a breather amid the hectic schedule of a wedding. At the groom’s house, the day before the wedding procession leaves, relatives, uncles, cousins and friends are invited to partake of Bhatwan. At the bride’s house, this meal is served either on the day before the wedding or on the day of the wedding procession. The wedding procession was leaving the following day from this house where I was invited for bhatwan. A lot of the changes awaited me in this house.

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