‘The tribal people can continue the ritual under the Tribal Act'

Rajya Adivasi Budakattu Hitarakshana Vedike of Kukke Subrahmanya on Monday sought to defend the practice of “made snana” where people, mostly Dalits roll over plantain leaves on which Brahmins have partaken meals in temples. The people undertake the ritual believing that it would cure, among others, their skin diseases.

The practice is held annually at Kukke Subrahmanya Temple and Sri Krishna Math in Udupi.

Vedike president B.K. Bhaskar Bendodi said the Malekudiya tribal people, who undertake the “made snana” at the temple, were the ones who had founded the temple. He said there was no force on the tribal people to undertake the ritual. To a question on why Malekudiyas did not have any managerial role in the temple though it was started by them, he said it had been so by tradition.

He agreed that tribal people were given menial jobs such as preparing the chariot for annual fair.

On the caste discrimination in serving food, he said that too was a tradition. He said Malekudiyas would lose the right to don secondary roles in rituals (holding Birudavalis) if they did not undertake “made snana”. He added that the temple authorities had not held such a threat but that the community itself had decided so. Mr. Bhaskar contradicted the version given in the statement signed by him and circulated at the press conference. While the statement said that the temple official C.V. Nagesh was assaulted during the visit by president of Karnataka Rajya Hindulida Jatigala Vargagala Jagruti Vedike K.S. Shivaramu, Mr. Bhaskar admitted that he had not seen Mr. Nagesh being attacked. Journalists told him that they had the video recording which showed that Mr. Shivaramu was attacked. Mr. Bhaskar said the Malekudiyas could continue the ritual under a “Tribal Act”. He sought time to reply when asked for the exact section of law that he was referring to. Although a six-page poem was circulated by Mr. Bhaskar and another senior Malekudiya tribal, A. Babu, they could not show how it served as a proof for the ritual of “made snana” being an age old tradition. Presspersons pointed out that there was no mention of “made snana” in the poem.