The ritual will be observed for two more days at Kukke Subrahmanya temple

As the deafening sound of brass gongs rang out, a large number of devotees began the ritual of ‘made snana’ by rolling over plantain leaves with leftovers of food had by Brahmins at the Kukke Subrahmanya temple on Sunday, ending months of speculation.

November 8 order

The temple administration decided to go ahead with the ritual, after the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the November 8 Karnataka High Court order permitting a modified version of the ritual where devotees would be allowed to roll over food offered to the deity.

“We received the [Supreme Court] order copy on Saturday, and decided to go ahead the ritual as it has been traditionally conducted,” said Krishnaprasad Madthila, president of the temple administrative board.

The ritual will be observed for two more days.

After Brahmins finished their meals around 2.50 p.m., the doors to the temple opened, and at least 150 people belonging to various castes rushed in to perform the ritual in the courtyard.

After rolling over the leftovers, the devotees completed their ‘harake’ or vow by washing up in the Kumaradhara, a stream that flows near the temple.

“I have been coming for the past nine years to find solutions to personal issues I face. I have seen some improvement after performing the ritual,” said Nisha, who had come all the way from Bangalore.

Lokesh from Sullia said he had first performed the ritual three years ago after his left hand was crippled with pain. “I have seen the pain come down,” he said.

However, Shridhar Ganiga (61) from Dharmasthala said that even after performing the ritual for 10 years, there had been no improvement in his eyesight which is deteriorating. “I take part in the ritual as people tell me it will help. But I want to ask the priests here whether ‘made snana’ can cure or how will it cure,” he said.

Even with his reservations, Mr. Ganiga was seen struggling to complete his ‘harake’.

B.K. Bhaskar Bendoodi of Adivasi Budakattu Hitarakshana Vedike, which challenged the High Court order, said the ritual was “misunderstood” and “did not discriminate” against people based on their caste.

“People belonging to all castes roll over the leaves. This is our tradition… if it is banned, the village will have to face ‘naga dosha’,” he said.

As there was a scuffle between devotees and Shivaram Gowda, a Dalit leader who called for a ban on the ritual, last year, over 150 policemen from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district were deployed at the temple on Sunday.

Awareness campaign

Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary B. Madhav, who called a ban on the ritual, said no protests had been planned in the temple town. “We are not against the devotees. We are against the government for allowing this social evil. From December 21, we will conduct an awareness campaign in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts against ‘made snana’ and ‘pankti bedha’ (caste discrimination during temple lunches),” he said.

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