Budhani Manjhiyain of jharkhand passed away last friday night. She was facing the brunt of the ostracism of

her own caste and society for the last 70 years. It was Budhni who inaugurated Damodar Valley Corporation’s

Panchet Dam and Hydel Power Plant in the presence of the country’s first prime minister Pandit jawahar Lal

Nehru. But, after this day, her caste-society had stuck a line of contempt on her forehead, which she continued

to bear throughout her life.

The whole story of Budhani Manjhiyain is strange. That date was 6 december 1959. The then Prime Minister

Pandit jawaharlal nehru had come to inaugurate the Panchet Dam and Hydel Power Plant built by DVC

(Damodar Valley Corporation) in dhanbad district of Jharkhand. It was decided that Pandit Nehru would be

welcomed by Budhni Manjhi, a girl from the Santhali tribal community of Jharkhand.

Pandit Nehru had honored

Budhni used to work as a laborer during the construction of this dam. At that time his age was about 15 years.

Budhni, dressed in traditional tribal attire and jewellery, welcomed Pandit Nehru and garlanded him. Pandit

Nehru, while respecting Budhni, took off his garland and put it around her neck. Pandit Nehru also inaugurated

the hydroelectric power plant by pressing a button at the hands of Budhni. But how did this 15 year old girl

know that the respect she received in the presence of the prime minister would become a reason for her

contempt and ostracism in her own society? In fact, till then there was a tradition in the Santhal tribal society

that no girl or woman would garland any man. If a boy and a girl or a man and a woman garland each other,

then it will be considered as marriage. So, the garland which Pandit Nehru had respectfully put around Budhni's

neck, became a matter of concern for her. The news and pictures of the inauguration of Panchet Dam and

Hydroelectric Power Plant by Budhni were published prominently in all the newspapers of the country the next

day, but there was an opposite reaction to this development in the Santhal tribal community.

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