India: Untouchable No More

 

Shepherd Caste villager praying

Sulita, 17, feeds her goats before heading to school.

Sulita, 17, feeds her goats before heading to school.

 

Ganga with his water buffalo.

Ganga with his water buffalo.

 

A shepherd boy tries to coax his young animals into the river for a bath.

A shepherd boy tries to coax his young animals into the river for a bath.

 

Gajraj, 12, giving feed to a water buffalo.

Gajraj, 12, giving feed to a water buffalo.

 

A galloping water buffalo momentarily interrupts a village church service.

A galloping water buffalo momentarily interrupts a village church service.

If you are born to a shepherd family in India, you are forever labeled “untouchable’, and part of the lowest caste in India. According to that system, you and 150 million others are considered too impure to even drink from the same water fountains as the higher castes, and too sinful to enjoy any pleasure during your miserable time in this life. You, as an “untouchable”  deserve what you get. You are told,”Maybe when you are born again, to a new life, you will rise to another level.” But your social strata for now is set once you exit your mother’s womb.

Although discrimination by caste  was banned by the Indian Constitution of 1950, life for rural Indians today is often a much darker walk, a walk endangered by discrimination, exploitation and oppression.

Dr. Ajai Lall talks about the work Central India Christian Mission is supporting through many leaders in rural India that live among the shepherds, “Christians started sharing their faith, telling their shepherd neighbors they are not low caste. They are not outcasts. They are not untouchable. They are special and privileged people. They are special because when God sent his son, He sent his messengers to shepherds who announced His birth. They are important and significant because shepherds were the very first people who saw Jesus when He was born. And, He was born in a manger. Not only that, Jesus called himself a great shepherd. So, the message was that you should not be living with the deprived mentality of being an outcast or untouchable. You are very special people.”

“And that message caught fire,” added Lall.

CALL TO ACTION: If you’d like to be a part of helping CICM in their work with the shepherds, contact Central India Christian Mission.

All photographs ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman

(Nikon D4, 50mm f1.4, 1/800 sec, f1.4, ISO 100)
(Nikon D4, 70-200mm f2.8 @122mm, 1/500 sec, f2.8, ISO 100)
(Nikon D4, 70-200mm f2.8 @70mm, 1/320 sec, f2.8, ISO 100)
(Nikon D4, 70-200mm f2.8 @200mm, 1/1250 sec, f2.8, ISO 100)
(Nikon D4, 24mm f1.4, 1/1600 sec, f1.4, ISO 100)
(Nikon D4, 24mm f1.4, 1/1600 sec, f1.4, ISO 100)

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