Two school friends Angie and Bogge spend the whole day together. They eat together and they have lots of fun shopping and watching movies. But when Angie goes home, her parents beat her because they think that the person she was spending time with was not right for her.
Her friend Bogge is a very kind and good person. But Bogge is an “Untouchable” and doesn’t belong to Angie’s class. Angie is very sad because her parents tell her not to have a friendship with someone whom she really wants to be friends with. But Bogge is an Untouchable. This is a story true of life in a caste society.
The caste system exists in countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The caste system is an ancient way of grouping people according to their occupation.
There are four major groups and many minor groups. The first most important group is called Brahmins who usually work in the temple and do all kinds of ceremonies such as marriage, funerals, etc.
The second group is called Kshatriyas who usually are in armies and navies – basically people who fight to guard the country.
The third group is called Shudras who usually make clothes, shoes and weapons such as knives, swords. They are also known as “Untouchables.”
In the caste system society, one should always be aware of whom they make friends with. They also need to know the places where they are allowed to go and who the people are that they are allowed to spend time with.
The Brahmins are allowed to go in every place. The Kshatriyas are the only group that can spend time with the Brahmins. However Kshatriyas cannot touch any cooked food which is made for the Brahmins. On special occasions Brahmins are hired to cook food so that everyone can eat it. In addition the Brahmins get to eat first and everyone else eats afterwards and of course Shudras (Untouchables) get their food served by others in disposable plates and forks. Shudras and untouchables are the only ones who can be together.
Some young people find it very hard to live in such a society, especially for the ones who are considered as Untouchables. They are the only ones who are isolated from the society. They cannot go to other people’s houses. They cannot attend any parties. If they do attend a party, they have to stay in one designated place and not touch anybody, especially while people are eating. If they touch food, the food gets thrown away or given to the domestic animals such as cows and goats.
There is always a problem living in such a society, not only for Untouchables, but for the people from higher groups as well. They always have to be careful of whom they make friends with. They have to make sure the Untouchables do not touch them while they fetch water from the tap or when they have food in their hands.
Romona Singh is a senior at Blair from Sikkim, India, and she states, “I personally have not faced any problem in my society but my dad has.” She said, “My dad came from a Hindu Brahmin family. When he was a little boy, he surely was not aware of the caste system. He used to play with his friends who were lower caste and Untouchables. One day his grandmother saw him playing with his friends. When he returned home, his grandmother told him to take a shower outside of house and [she] burned his clothes.”
There are some other people who have faced similar problems like Ramona’s dad. Pooja, a senior at Blair is also from a country that believes in the caste system. “I had a friend from the Untouchable group,” she said. “We were so close friends that we used to share lunch at school. One day my parents caught me eating with my friend and told me to end our friendship from that instant.”
The caste system is based on religious beliefs. Most of the people in the caste society are Hindus who believe in reincarnation. They believe that if people do something good, then they will be reborn in a higher class. If they do bad things, then they will be reborn in a lower class.
Sanju, a Blair graduate, said, “My parents always taught me to do good things and help one who needs help in your life so that you can go to heaven and can have a better life in your next generation.” She also added “If you were to hurt others and harm things, you definitely will go to hell and be reborn as an insect or other animal such as a dog and cat or else you will born in the lower class.”
There are still many people who strictly follow the caste system. Sanju’s grandmother thinks it is extremely important to follow the rules made by ancient people. “It is our custom I was raised with. I cannot discard my custom,” she said.
But some young people do not feel the same way. “I do not like the idea of the caste system because it has no meaning and it does not make sense,” Ramona said.
Pooja shared the same idea as well. She said “I do not think it is good idea to have a caste system because it is unfair. We all know that god has created us equal and no one has a right to be separate. Everyone has their right to live their life freely and equally.”