PROGRESSIVE forces in Karnataka led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have staged protests opposing a superstitious practice in the garb of religious faith and belief of the people. Functionaries of CPI(M) and several progressive outfits held dharna and procession in Mangalore and Chikkaballapur to register protest and create awareness about the ritual called Made Snana.
The efforts of the CPI (M) resulted in Chikkaballapur district administration banning the practice and the people who came to participate in the ritual were made to return without observing the obnoxious ritual. The CPI (M) in Karnataka is making relentless efforts since past few years now to create awareness among people against the blind beliefs and retrograde rituals such as Made Snana and Pankthi Bheda. Though the ritual at the major temple in Kukke could not be stalled for now, the result at Chikkaballapur has been seen as a big step towards taking forward a social reform movement led by the CPI (M).
A number of CPI (M) cadres were injured when some people supporting the ritual manhandled them when they were staging protest in Chikkaballapur in 2013. However, these elements could not repeat their game this time around. Made Snana is a ritual being practiced in several temples including Kukke Subramanya temple at Kukke in Dakshina Kannada district and Subrahmanyeswara temple in Chikkaballapur. Such rituals are being nurtured by priestly classes in order to help the exploiting classes perpetuate the unequal social order by keeping the masses under the darkness in the name of religion and god. A huge procession by CPI (M) functionaries was held preceding the protest meeting near the Subrahmanyeswara temple in Chikkaballapur on Addressing the protest, CPI (M) state secretary and former MLA GV Sriram Reddy called upon Pejawar mutt seer Vishwesha Teertha Swamiji to partake food with Dalits in the premises of his mutt. He also challenged the seer to announce that he will not support practices such as made snana and pankthi bheda.
The seer who guides the BJP and the RSS as the vice president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, should suggest Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban superstitious rituals such as made snana, Sriram Reddy said. He also urged the chief minister of Karnataka to enact a legislation to ban superstitious beliefs. At Mangalore, functionaries of CPI(M), JMS, Dalit Hakkugala Horata Samithi, SFI, DYFI, Karnataka State Backward Classes Awareness Forum, besides a number of seers participated in a mass dharna on November 25.
AFFRONT TO HUMANITY
Made snana is a practice in which the devotees roll over plantain leaves containing food partaken by ‘upper caste’ persons. Hundreds of people particularly from lower strata of society and tribal communities take part in the ritual in order to invoke ‘god’s grace and get their problems solved’. It is unscientific to roll over the leftovers of food. More over it is an affront to humanity. The Party also took up the issue of pankthi bheda (separate line for people other than Brahmins) at famous Sri Krishna temple in Udupi. Taking into consideration these aspects, CPI (M) took initiative a few years ago to oppose these inhuman practices and mobilised a number of progressive organisations. It could muster even the support of some progressive seers in the state. Following the Party’s initiative, a protest was held for the first time at Kukke Subrahmanya temple in 2009 under the aegis of Karnataka State Backward Classes Awareness Forum.
In view of stiff resistance by the progressive elements, Dakshina Kannada district administration banned the ritual in 2011. Several people including some seers filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in High Court of Karnataka in 2012 seeking ban on the ritual as it was resumed in the temple. The state government submitted a proposal based on Pejawar Mutt seer’s advise seeking introduction of a modified ritual named ede snana and the High Court accepted it. However, the Supreme Court of India, allowing a special leave petition (SLP) filed by a tribal organisation, stayed the High Court order and in September 2014 it dismissed the SLP, but allowed the petitioner to approach the High Court. Unfortunately, the High Court issued an interim order on November 19, 2014 allowing the original traditional made snana to continue prompting the CPI (M) and others to plunge into action once again demanding a total ban on the obnoxious and inhuman ritual.