Even as the ‘made snana’ ritual entered into the second day, several organisations and a few Math seers sat on a day-long hunger strike on Saturday demanding a ban on the “discriminatory” practice.
“Casteist rituals like made snana, where it is believed that the saliva of upper castes is healing, is a stain on the state that has produced reformed such as Basava and Kanakadasa who preached equality,” said Swami Basavaraja Devaru of Revana Siddeshwara Mutt, Mansur.
The seer urged criminal proceedings should be launched against the swamis and priests who support the practise as it amounted to supporting “untouchability and discrimination based on caste”.
Karnataka State Backward Classes Awareness Forum president K.S. Shivaram, who had launched an agitation against the ritual nearly four years ago, urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to either pass the proposed anti-superstition law or issue an ordinance prohibiting the practice in Kukke Subramanya temple, which is under the Muzzrai department.
Responding to criticism that banning the ritual would amount to violation of fundamental rights of an individual when it comes to choosing faith, Mr. Shivaram said: “Though there is no compulsion to perform the ritual, they have been told or rather brainwashed by Brahmins and priests that doing so will help them. There is an atmosphere of obedience even if there is no compulsion.”
The protestors were clear in their support for the anti-superstition bill and called it a “necessity” to “clean out the discriminatory, exploitative” practices of religion here.
Mr. Shivaram, however, said there needed to be more consultations with people of all castes and faith. “Currently, the examples provided by the professors (of National Law School of India University) seems like only one religion is being targeted. This has to be expanded to cover all discriminatory practises,” he said.
He rued that there was a lot of “misinformation and slander” about the bill by right-wing groups who believe the bill attacks the faith of the Hindus. The Forum, he said, will bring out a free booklet with essays by scholars expounding the merit while dispelling myths of the bill.
While extending his support to the bill, Swami Rachoti Shivacharya of Bettadapura Shakha Math, Mysore, believed that sustainable change was possible only when the Maths unite against it. “It is regretful that a few Math seers spread superstition and the dominance of the upper-castes,” he said.
The two seers on stage questioned the motives for the Pejawar seer’s opposition to made snana. “It is in his Math that practices like pankthi bheda still continue. He has been playing politics with the issue of Dalit rights,” said the Siddeshwara Muth seer.
Mangalore: The second day of made snana on Saturday saw controversy with lunch being served half an hour late due to objection to the “other persons” at the temple.
A source at the temple said the 30-minute delay was because the Brahmins who serve food objected to the presence of media persons there. A few reporters even alleged that their caste was the root of the objection.
However, the temple administration said, “The servers, who are from another temple, objected to media persons standing on the mantapa. This led to arguments.”
Meanwhile, the number of devotees in the ritual was nearly three times the number that rolled over plantain leaves on the first day.