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Harijan: The Son of God  by Wahid Adnan Appearance:
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They pick up the garbage, sweep the streets, clean the gutters, load and unload the garbage trucks. They are achuta, or the untouchable; members of a particular caste that linger at the very bottom of traditional Hindu community. In India, Mahatma Gandhi gave the name ĎHarijaní or Ďson of Godí to this community of untouchable people who work as sweepers and cleaners to the public place of the cities and towns.

In 1853, after the Great Indian Peninsula Rail Company established the first railway system through Indian continent, the British colonial authority lured these untouchables of having better job and facilities in railway stations and provincial government offices all over the continent. But eventually, they were forced to do same thing; sweeping garbage. Many converted to other religion but, till date, the Harijan can be found at large in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and some other countries.

In Bangladesh, the untouchable people have been engaged in cleaning profession by birth. Bangladesh is a Muslim dominated country, even so the Harijans are not treated with respect. Though, they despise their profession, most of them have no other way except being a sweeper, as are politically, socially, economically and mentally isolated from the mainstream community. For instance, they cannot eat in public restaurants nor can perform rituals with the rest of the society. Their children are also neglected and harassed in school.

Yet this special group of people finds themselves fortunate because they believe this isolation, in turn, helps them to preserve their culture and religion. Their lives are highly dominated by their religion, and they prefer to live in the boundary of their community.


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