Dola Palki Movement

Artisan Doms who could improve their economic condition claimed a higher status among Doms. They joined the Arya Samaj and became Arya, adopted janeo and got purified. Lala Lajpat Rai in 1913 visited Almora and in Sunkiyan village gave Janeo and dvij status to 600 untouchables. A temple was opened for untouchables in Almora. There was a Dola-palki movement by the Doms. During the marriage of Doms the bridegrooms and brides were not allowed by the higher castes to use dola and palki (palki was used to carry the bridegroom and dola the bride. Both dola and palki were carried by 2 to 4 persons on their shoulders) and were instead to walk on foot. When Doms asserted their right to use dola-palki there was often violence. The Arya Samaj played an important role in the movement. Doms also asserted that they should be called Shilpkar.Tamtas (copper smiths) who became rich took to priestly function amongst shilpkars.The Kumaun Shilpkar Sabha and the Garhwal Shilpkar Sabha spearheaded the movement for status mobility.  While Khasas could merge with Rajputs, Doms could not do so.

They were considered impure, and there were no middle caste groups in the hills with whom they could identity. Thus their struggle did not result in mobility in caste hierarchy. An internal structure of hierarchy emerged within the Doms. When Tamtas emerged as leaders of the Kumaun Shilpkar Sabha, Sanwal argues, many did not accept their leadership. Only a few Doms could benefit in terms of their improved position. For many the situation remained the same.

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