Girish S. Pattanashetti
HUBLI: It is 6 a.m. and 40-year-old Kamalamma, and her daughter-in-law are busy in the kitchen kneading the flour for making "jolada roti". Till afternoon, they will be restricted to the kitchen making "roti" until two other family members take over from them, which usually takes place around 4 p.m.
Kamalamma would take a small break only to have food. By the time Kamalamma and her "teammate" call it a day, they would have made around 600 to 700 "rotis." The two others would continue the same work till the clock strikes 11 p.m. or sometimes till midnight.
Kamalamma and others do not make a living out of selling `jolada roti'. More than 1,000 rotis prepared everyday in their house in Lokur village of Dharwad taluk are meant for the consumption of the family members. This typical village in north Karnataka boasts of the largest undivided family in the country.
They have not made a headcount of the number of members of this undivided family recognised by the family name of Narasinganavar. According to a rough estimate, there are about 180 members in this family. Seventy-five year old Bhimanna Jinapa Narasinganavar heads the family. But he is the not the eldest in the family. There is 90-year-old Tammanna. Bhimanna has been made head of the family as he is the most educated among his generation. The undivided family has about 270 acres of land, of which eight acres is meant for paddy cultivation. The family owns seven houses in the village, but they have a single kitchen for their culinary needs.
The Narasinganavar family does not buy foodgrains and vegetables as everything required for the kitchen is cultivated by them.
The jobs of each family member are clearly defined. While Padmanna supervises agricultural activities, Mahaveer runs the family by arranging the supply for the kitchen. Dharanendra looks after the dairy, while the responsibility of Devendra is to maintain the vehicles the family owns and the borewells.
The women of the family are not allowed to work in the field. But they have other works like cooking food on rotation basis, sending food to the men working in the field, taking care of the needs of the children and keeping the house clean. The most strenuous among their duties is the making of jolada roti, which every woman in the family has to do once in four or five days. It is not that the family members are unanimous on all issues. There are differences, but they are not allowed to grow out of proportion. As one daughter-in-law of the family put it, it is the elders who are keeping them united.
Perhaps there is a realisation of their combined strength that is keeping them together. "We know the strength of being together. We also know that if want to go out and share our property, we would be ending up on the streets. That is why we are together," said Bhimanna.