While the ‘made snana’ — a ritual of people rolling on plantain leaves on which Brahmins have partaken food — entered its third and final day in Kukke Subramanya Temple on Sunday, so did the protests demanding the ban of “discriminatory practices” such as these in the city.

Several members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) staged a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here demanding the passing of the anti-superstition bill in the State, which would “curtail unjust practices that targeted the depressed classes”.

Addressing the gathering, K.R. Sriyan, member of the CPI(M) State Secretariat, lamented that despite advances in science and technology, these superstitious practices still continued.

“It is the responsibility of the government to develop scientific temper among the people. There needs to be awareness against these rituals. This is a social change that requires political support. However, political parties are playing to vote banks and ensuring these practices continue,” he said.

He believed it is “the same type of politics” that is keeping Chief Minister Siddaramaiah from passing an ordinance banning made snana or from pushing through the anti-superstition bill.

“Before he became Chief Minister, he was campaigning against the practice of made snana. Suddenly, he has become quiet about it. Why this volte face?” asked Mr. Sriyan, adding that the Bill should be passed after discussion with all stakeholders.

Imitations galore

While saying that superstitions, including made snana, should be confined to homes, H.S. Anupama, noted Kannada writer, noted that a ‘community performance’ of the ritual by hundreds of people sends out the wrong message.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a press conference, the doctor-turned-writer cited an example of other temples in the State following the ritual after it was telecast.

“People start to think they can’t travel to Kukke Subramanya to perform the ritual, and instead they start doing it in the nearest Subramanya temple,” she said.

She was citing an example where the ritual was pre-empted only by the local women’s group holding awareness sessions with devotees.

The anti-superstition bill, she said, would not, on its own, solve the issues of exploitative faith. “In fact, banning it gives more publicity for people to perform rituals furtively. Along with the bill, there should be a concerted awareness campaign,” said Dr. Anupama.

With the country filled with “crazy, often dangerous” ways of alternative medicine, these campaigns and bills are necessary, she said.

Amidst the uncertainty that this could very well be the last time devotees are allowed to roll over plantain leaves containing leftovers of Brahmin’s lunch, more than 1,000 people participated in the final day of the made snana ritual at Kukke Subramanya temple on Sunday.

The religious festivities started off at 8.18 a.m. with a car festival attended by “thousands of people”, said a temple official. However, he admitted that the turnout was lesser than last year due to “prevalent rains” in the region.

However, around 2.30 p.m., more than 1,000 devotees participated in made snana, the highest number in the three days it was conducted.

More In: Mangaluru