Mangalore, Dec 2 : K S Shivaramu, leader of a backward classes organisation was assaulted here on Wednesday for opposing a superstitious and casteist ritual performed in the government-run Kukke Subrahmanya temple in Sullia taluk.
Shivaramu is the state president of the Karnataka Rajya Hindulida Vargagala Jagruta Vedike and has been campaigning against this odd ritual since last several years.
Shivaramu was assaulted by a group of around 10 people outside the temple after he met Assistant Commissioner of Puttur subdivision Sundar Bhat and submitted a memorandum urging the Dakshina Kannada administration to prohibit the ritual of ‘made snana'.
As Shivaramu was speaking to the media about the memorandum, a group of people surrounded him.
After he finished speaking, they began arguing with him. Soon the group began to rain blows on Shivaramu, who started running. He was chased, caught and thrashed again.
Though Shivaramu was given police protection, the police stepped in only after the group chased him and beat him up. The police then took him to the government hospital.
Before he was assaulted, Shivaramu said that the ritual of ‘made snana' was “inhuman” as well as “unscientific”. He said that it should be banned.
“But, before that, the practice of serving food inside the temple only for a particular caste should be stopped,” Shivaramu said. He added that the continuation of the practice “in the name of tradition and religion is being done to perpetuate superstitious beliefs”.
He said that he would prepare a fact-finding report on the ritual and send it to the President, and later petition the Supreme Court.
‘Made snana' is a harake (an offering to God in return for the granting of a wish). This particular harake involves rolling on plantain leaves containing leftovers of food consumed by Brahmins.
Those who perform the ritual include Brahmins. The ritual is believed to cure skin diseases. It is performed annually during the Champa Shashti festival for three days.
Shivaramu has filed a complaint with the Subrahmanya police, who have registered a case under sections relating to rioting, hurt, and criminal intimidation. A counter complaint has been filed against Shivaramu by A.V. Nagesh, a local man, claiming that he was assaulted by the former.
The Dalit Aikyata Vedike, a forum of various Dalit organisations in the State, on Wednesday urged Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to drop Minister for Higher Education V.S. Acharya from the Cabinet for promoting blind beliefs that are detrimental to the interests of Dalits.
Accusing Dr. Acharya of supporting ‘made snana', State convener of the Dalit Sangarsh Samithi (Ambedkarvada) said the Minister was violating Constitution by promoting a ritual that humiliates Dalits.
Protesting against the attack on Shivaramu and demanding that the Chief Minister drop Dr. Acharya from the Cabinet, Dalits would stage a demonstration in front of the office of the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police on Thursday, he said.
Because of centuries-old supersitition, many devotees are eager to take part in Madae Snana, the ritual wherein they roll over the banana leaves on which upper-class Hindus have had their lunch at Kukke Subramanya temple in Mangalore.
Says Dakshina Kannada deputy commissioner Chennappa Gowda. who had decided to ban the ritual from this year: "But there was an overwhelming demand from the devotees who said it was their wish to practice it.”
He adds that the devotees cited the right to freedom of expression, granted by the Constitution of the country, to be allowed to perform the ritual.
The devotees from Mumbai, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Mysore, Bhopal and Delhi appealed to the DC to lift the ban and let them take the “holy Madae Snana”.
Liberals and revolutionaries are strictly against this practice. They term it not only unhygienic but also something that is below human dignity.
They say it can be compared to the now-abolished practice wherein scavengers used to carry human excreta in a basket on their head.
The temple swamiji, Vidyaprasanna Thirtha, says the temple does not force the ritual on anyone. Devotees take up the practice on their own accord.
He adds that the temple does not organise this event but organises just the lunch for devotees. He says they do not collect any fees from people who take part in Madae Snana.