Blind belief makes tribals flee hamlet in Chikkamagaluru

Published - July 28, 2018 12:27 am IST - Chikkamagaluru

The tents and makeshift homes the families left behind in N.R. Pura taluk of Chikkamagaluru.

The tents and makeshift homes the families left behind in N.R. Pura taluk of Chikkamagaluru.

Around 25 families of Havugolla, a tribe, vacated their dwellings near Bale village in N.R. Pura taluk on Thursday believing that deaths would occur in their families during the total lunar eclipse. According to members of the community, they left on the “advice of deities” they worship.

Two youngsters from the community — Ganesh, 24, and Suresh, 26 — died on July 7 and July 21, respectively, triggering fear. The families believe they died suddenly with no serious prior health problems.

Following this, some tribals visited temples at Balehonnur, Karkeshwara, Mangaluru and other places. “Chowdamma and Maramma are our deities. When we wanted to know the reason for the deaths, the deities, through the priests who invoke them, told us the problem was with the place. [We were told] we should leave the place immediately, otherwise three more would die during the lunar eclipse. That is why we all left in a hurry on Thursday,” said Purushottam, 27, who is now at his relative’s place at Hosanagar in Shivamogga district. He left with his wife and two children. He even hurriedly took transfer certificate for his daughter, who was enrolled at a government primary school at Hoskere.

The families have dispersed to many other towns and villages, some even in Kerala. Members of Bale and Nagalapur gram panchayats tried in vain to convince them not to leave. K.D. Xavier, a member of Nagalapur GP, said: “The deaths must have occurred for some reason. They hardly consult a doctor for any health problem.”

The Havugolla families, known for capturing snakes, keep moving from one place to another. When they came to Bale village about 15 years ago, they put up their tents on a vacant plot, which happened to be a forest land. As the years passed, the younger generation gave up capturing snakes and became agricultural labourers and small-time traders. “We also supported their fight for suitable land and housing,” said Vasant Kumar, president of Nagalapur GP.

N.R. Pura tahsildar T. Gopinath and TP executive officer Prakash Vaddar visited the spot on Friday. “We are trying to reach out to [those who left] and convince them to come back,” the tahsildar told The Hindu .

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