Why Dalit?

Berit Madsen
29 minutes


Why do some people consider others "untouchable"? Why do upper caste people sprinkle water to purify themselves when touched by a Dalit?

This documentary film explores the caste system in Nepal as it is experienced by lower castes - the Dalit - and upper caste people. Through the words of Dalit, yhe film reveals many of the paradoxes in the upper caste based discrimination, like: why are the shoes made by the Sarki lower caste people allowed into the house when the person who made the shoes cannot enter?

The Dalit are not one homogenous group of people, but a common denominator for a variety of lower caste people living in Nepal. The film moves from the hill regions in West Nepal to the Terai in the south and put focus on different Dalit castes, their living circumstances within the Nepalese caste system and the Dalits' migration from the hill regions to the Terai in the hope of making a better living.

In 1990 the practice of caste-based discrimination was declared illegal and punishable by law in Nepal. But the caste system still forms an essential part of the cultural landscape.


Berit Madsen
Suggested readings: 
"The life of lower castes in Western part of Nepal", by Berit Madsen 2001.