Despite the undercurrents over the discussions of the proposed anti-superstition bill, numerous devotees carried out the made snana ritual held at the Kukke Subramanya temple on Friday.
Though official estimates are not out yet, the temple administration believes that a little more than 200 people participated in the ritual. This is up from the nearly 150 devotees, who had participated on the first day of the three-day ritual last year.
After the Brahmin families had their meal around 2 p.m., the doors to the temple were flung open. With the sound of the band playing in the background, the devotees, from various castes, rushed in to perform the ritual.
Covered with vestiges of the meal they had rolled over, the devotees completed their ‘vow’ by washing up at a stream of the Kumaradhara that flows nearby. With the government proposing an anti-superstition bill that aims at reducing “discriminatory practices”, and the Supreme Court considering the matter based on a public interest litigation petition, this could very well be the last time the ritual is performed.
“The Supreme Court has stayed the Karnataka High Court order (dated November 8, 2012) that had sought to modify the ritual. We have left it to the courts and the government to decide on the matter…We have no say in this, but we do not believe this year will be last for the ritual,” said a member of the temple management committee, who did not want to be named.
The High Court order had suggested that the ritual be modified to allow devotees to roll on food that was kept in front of the deity.
With the ritual two years ago seeing devotees assault K.S. Shivaram, a backward classes leader, who called for a ban on the ritual, Friday saw the presence of around 75 policemen posted near the temple. Police said there were no untoward incidents or protests at the venue.
While Mr. Shivaram said there were no scheduled protests at the temple town — citing law and order reasons for the decision — there will be a one-day hunger strike by Dalit groups and progressive seers in Mangalore on Saturday.
Similarly, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will protest the ritual in Mangalore on Sunday.