Converting to Buddhism for a Haircut and a Shave

Posted on October 24, 2013 by



The Dalit people are considered low class because they work as agricultural or construction laborers. According to Wikipedia, “Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as untouchables. Gopal Kateshiya, an Indian journalist, captures the view of these people converting to Buddhism to have a better life. In Kateshiya’s article “Became Buddhist for haircut, shave…mental untouchability persists” some Dalit few speak up to explain why they converted to Buddhism.

The initial impression this unusual headline imparts is that this article is about why Buddhists shave their heads or maybe the disadvantages Buddhist monks have. There was a conversion rally for a haircut and shave because Dahya Vahela, a respected elder of the Dalits, would not get served in a barbershop because the barber said that he will not get any upper caste customers if he serves a Dalit person. When one reads into the first paragraph, it is suggested that this journalist is shocked that sixty families and a total of 60,000 Dalits have converted to Buddhism. Another hint that this article is about injustice is that the caption of the picture of multiple men having a conversation is, “Not got social equality, says Jaydev Bapa of Vijapur village.”

The Dalits are known as the untouchables and are portrayed as a bad caste system in Kateshiya’s article. The Dalits believe that the only way to not be treated as untouchables is to convert to Buddhism. By converting to Buddhism, their “descendants can now simply say they are Buddhists when someone asks them about their caste. They would thus be saved of the humiliation attached with the term Dalit.” Buddhism is portrayed as a saving grace. If you are a Buddhist than you believe in equality so the Dalit people will, in theory, be treated equally by all castes.


Posted in: Buddhism