Sidi ritual given up at Udusalamma jatra

A symbolic Sidi ritual being conducted by tying garlands to a tree trunk at Hariharapura in Holenarasipur on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Udusalamma jatra mahotsava, held once in two years at Hariharapura in Holenarsipur taluk, was different this time on. The ritual of Sidi – hook swinging – which was a part of the festival these years, was not conducted during the event on Saturday, thanks to the anti-superstition law that prohibits practices involve inserting hooks into flesh.

Several progressive organisations had urged the administration to stop the practice as per the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017, that came into effect on January 4, 2020. The taluk administration had issued instructions to the villagers not to hold the customs.

All these years, hook-swinging and locking mouths of women with iron hooks were part of this festival. Residents of Hariharapura and six other villages nearby take part in the event. A few male members of select Dalit families of Chakenahalli performed Sidi. They had to maintain fast for a week before the festival day. Early morning on the day, iron hooks were inserted into the flesh of their back. Later they were tied to a long tree trunk, mounted on a wooden pedestal. Hundreds of people gathered would cheer as the trunk with men tied to it was made to rotate in 360 degrees. Besides that, many women, including those from upper castes, did take part in the procession with their mouths locked by iron hooks. However, this time, in place of Dalit men, garlands were tied to the tree trunk and a symbolic Sidi was held. No woman had her mouth locked up with iron hooks.

For the last few years, a section of villagers opposed the customs that involved inserting iron hooks into the body. They received the support of Dalit Hakkugala Samiti (DHS) in Hassan in 2017, when the organisation submitted a memorandum to the district administration to stop the inhuman customs. “Then there was no law to stop such practices. The police had issued us a notice accusing us of disturbing the peace for urging the administration to stop the customs. However, this time, the custom has been stopped, thanks to the law. Besides that, a few youths of Chakenahalli stood firm and wanted that the custom should end. All these efforts have finally helped to put an end to the customs”, said M.G.Pruthvi, the district convener of DHS.

Holenarasipur tahsildar K.R. Srinivas and DySP Lakshme Gowda had held meetings with villagers instructing them not to hold the customs prohibited by law. They had also imposed restrictions on the event in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 6:59:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sidi-ritual-given-up-at-udusalamma-jatra/article34290410.ece

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