Thursday, December 15, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Karnataka banks on education to end bizarre ritual

IBN Karnataka | Posted on Dec 15, 2011 at 12:09pm IST
Karnataka banks on education to end bizarre ritual

Bangalore: Karnataka's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has
struck a fine balance of preferring education to legislation to end a
temple's bizarre ritual denounced as "obnoxious" and "anti-Dalit" by
its opponents. It has also bought time and made peace with the
believers of the practice called "made snana" or "urulu seve" which
involves rolling over plantain leaves with leftovers of meals eaten by
Brahmins, either as fulfillment of a vow or in the belief that it
cures of skin ailments.

The ritual takes place once a year during the three-day Champa Sashti
festival in late November or early December at a temple devoted to
Hindu god Subramanya at Kukke, a small town in western Ghats, about
350 km from here. Declining to ban the practice on the ground that it
will hurt the sentiments of the believers, the government has
announced it will launch a campaign against the practice in the hope
that this will eventually lead to its end.

Higher education and Muzrai (religious affairs) Minister V.S. Acharya
told the state legislature early this week that his government will
not support any ritual or practice that exploits Dalits or backward
Karnataka banks on education to end bizarre ritual

However, banning the "made snana" will "hurt the sentiments of
believers" and hence the government prefers awareness campaign against
it rather than use legislation to ban it, he said. Acharya has not
spelt out when the campaign will start and who all will participate,
though he said religious leaders will also be involved.

The government may be forced to announce details of its plans before
the end of this month as a group opposed to the practice is organising
a 'padayatra' (march) from Bangalore to Udupi, about 400 km away,
through the temple town of Kukke in the first week of January.

The Mysore-based group, Karnataka State Backward Classes Awareness
Forum, is insisting that the government ban the ritual before the end
of the year.

Otherwise it will go ahead with the 'padayatra', for which support of
various religious leaders is also being sought, Forum president K.S.
Shivaramu told reporters in Mysore reacting to the government
preferring awareness campaign to legislation to end the practice.

The 'padayatra', if taken out, can lead to trouble, particularly in
Kukke, as Shivaramu was bashed up in that temple town on Nov 29 when
he went there to protest the ritual. On Dec 5, the town observed a
shutdown to protest "outside interference in its affairs".

The attack on Shivaramu led to widespread condemnation and demand for
immediate government intervention to end the ritual, which the
government and the temple authorities say has been in practice for
around 400 years.

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