Debate on Hindutva element in Tulu Nadu’s ‘Bhootharadhane’ ritual

News Network
October 29, 2022

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A debate is going on in the social and cultural circles of Karnataka over Bhootharadhane, a ritual of spirit worship practised by people of coastal Karnataka, as to whether it is part of Hindu culture. The discussion was opened up with the stupendous success of Rishab Shetty’s Kannada film Kantara, a story based on the traditions and beliefs, including worship of Bhootha Kola, in the Dakshina Kannada region.

The controversy was kicked off by Kannada actor-activist Chetan Kumar who questioned Rishab Shetty’s claim in an interview that the Bhootha Kola ritual is part of Hindu culture. During the interview, Shetty was asked whether Panjurli, a spirit in the form of a wild boar, was depicted in the movie as a Hindu deity. Shetty, in his reply said those gods are ‘all part of our tradition’ and of Hindu culture and rituals. “Because I am a Hindu, I have belief and respect for my religion. But I will not say others are wrong. What we have said (in the movie) is through the element that is present in Hindu dharma,” he said.

Contesting this, Kumar told a press conference that it is important how we use the word ‘Hindu’. “It is wrong to say that Bhootha Kola is part of the Hindu religion. Adivasis practised the ritual and there is no ‘Brahminism’ in Bhootha Kola, he pointed out. Cautioning against bracketing ancient ‘Moolvasi’ culture with Hinduism, he said it is the culture of the Adivasis. Do not put Adivasi culture in the column of Hindu religion,” he said, inviting strong protests from right wing Hindu outfits.

Bhootha Kola is a ritual performance where local spirits or deities are worshipped. It is believed that the person performing the ritual turns himself in as God at the moment and listens to people’s grievances and provides answers. Several Bhoothas are being worshipped in the Tulu-speaking belt of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. The rituals are mostly confined to small local communities and rural areas where the Daivas are believed to protect the villagers from all evils.

North Kerala’s Theyyam performed in local temples and houses has strong resemblance to the Bhootha Kola. 

Chetan Kumar, an activist who had earlier taken up the cause of Adivasis, said Bhootha Kola, a non-Vedic ritual, was not part of Hindu tradition but of indigenous people who are Moolvasis, which was later ‘hijacked’ by Aryans. In a tweet, Kumar said, “Glad our Kannada film Kantara is making national waves. Director Rishab Shetty claims Bhootha Kola is ‘Hindu culture’. False. Our Pambada/Nalike/Parawa’s Bahujan traditions pre-date Vedic-Brahminical Hinduism. We ask that Moolnivasi cultures be shown w/ truth on & off screen.”

Karnataka’s land has its own culture, tradition and history even before the Hindu religion began. Bhootha Kola and other practices are part of the Adivasi culture which has been existing for several thousand years, he later said, clarifying his argument.

Rishab Shetty, who sought to distance himself from the controversy, said he has no comment on the issue. “When I was making this movie, those people who practised this culture were with me and I have been very cautious. I come from the same part, still I do not want to comment about it as only people who perform it have the right to speak,” he told media. Many others joined issue criticising Chetan Kumar for his remarks.

Noting that Bhootha Kola represents Hindu culture and tradition, Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik in a statement said the actor, who is an atheist, does not know the culture of the land. Identifying Panjurli, a spirit worshiped in Bhootha Kola, with the Hindu God Vishnu has led to the controversy, with some pointing out the ‘appropriation’ of Adivasi culture in films that depict Hinduism.

Reacting to the row, Dharmasthala dharmadhikari (hereditary administrator) and Rajya Sabha MP Veerendra Heggade said several such practices have evolved over the years and people have strong belief in them. The people in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts believe in Daivaradhane and Bhootharadhane. There is no need to link it with dharma, he told media after watching the movie in Mangaluru recently.

Karnataka Tulu Sahitya academy president Dayanand G Kathalsar affirmed that Bhootharadhane and worship of Bhoothas are part and parcel of Hindu religion. Attempts are being made to separate those practising the worship from the mainstream of Hindu religion, he told reporters here.

Kathalsar, who is also former president of Pampadara Yane Daivaradkara Seva Samaja, said there are 16 different classes who are involved in Daivaradhane in the coastal region. All the people from different classes are involved in the process, he said, adding it is unfair to try to distance it from Hinduism. He said all Tuluvas believed in Daivradhane, including the scheduled caste people who belong to the Hindu religion. The right-wing outfits are up in arms against Chetan Kumar for his comments on Bhootha Kola.

Recently, an FIR was registered in Bengaluru against the actor for his comments on Bhootha Kola, based on a complaint from a Bajrang Dal activist. The Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV), which has also taken up the issue, also lodged a complaint at Karkala police station in Udupi stating that Chetan Kumar’s statement has hurt the sentiments of Hindus. The Vedike has urged the police to take suitable action against the actor.

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News Network
November 23,2022

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A gunman shot and killed multiple people in a Walmart store late Tuesday (November 22) in the US state of Virginia, police and city officials said, adding that the shooter too is dead.

"We were able to find multiple fatalities and multiple injured parties," Chesapeake Police Department officer Leo Kosinski told reporters at the scene, saying rapid response officers entered the store "immediately" as they arrived.

"We believe it is a single shooter and that single shooter is deceased at this time," he added.

The City of Chesapeake also said on Twitter that police did "confirm an active shooter incident with fatalities at the Walmart on Sam's Circle.

"Our first responders are well-trained and prepared to respond; please give them space to do so," it added.

News footage showed a major police presence at the scene, with Kosinski saying several officers and investigators were combing through the store and securing the area.

The exact number of fatalities remained unclear, but CBS affiliate WUSA said police said they believed no more than 10 people were killed.

In a statement, Walmart said it was "shocked" by the mass shooting at its store.

"We are shocked at this tragic event at our Chesapeake, Virginia store. We're praying for those impacted, the community and our associates. We're working closely with law enforcement, and we are focused on supporting our associates," the company said on Twitter. 

Virginia state Senator Louise Lucas, who represents the region, said she was "absolutely heartbroken that America's latest mass shooting took place in a Walmart in my district in Chesapeake, Virginia tonight."

"I will not rest until we find the solutions to end this gun violence epidemic in our country that has taken so many lives," she said on Twitter.

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News Network
November 24,2022

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Bengaluru, Nov 24: The Bharatiya Janata Party has appointed its Yuva Morcha leader Vikas Puttur as the party’s social media chief in the poll-bound Karnataka. 

Vikas, 37, will step into big shoes with elections just six months away in Karnataka and social media being a battlefield where votes are won. BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel appointed Vikas, who hails from the Dakshina Kannada district. Even Kateel comes from the same district. 

“I expect quite a challenge. We have existing infrastructure, which needs more streamlining,” Vikas, who holds a masters degree in economics, said. Vikas has served as secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha in the state and at the national level. He was also the BJP’s spokesperson in Dakshina Kannada.

Under Vikas, the BJP will look to establish a direct connection with voters at the booth-level. “In every booth, we want to keep direct touch with at least 25% of voters. We want to build a channel for this to happen,” Vikas said. 

The Karnataka BJP already commands a large social media following: 4.52 lakh followers on Twitter, 9.40 lakh on Facebook and over 53,000 on Instagram. 

“Our focus will be on constructive content. We will continue projecting schemes given by our governments and what they’ve done for people,” Vikas said. 

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News Network
November 12,2022

Bengaluru, Nov 12: Assam Police Saturday said they arrested Amir Hamja, a member of Campus Front of India (CFI), the student wing of Popular Front of India (PFI), from Bengaluru.

Hamja, 27, a resident of Ananda Nagar area in western Assam's Baksa district, was absconding since the Centre imposed a ban on both PFI and CFI in September, police said adding that he was hiding in Bengaluru with some families from Tripura.

Assam Police traced and nabbed him with the help of Bengaluru police. He has been given a three-day transit remand by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bengaluru.

He will be produced before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Guwahati on Monday.

Hamja has been booked in connection with a case registered by the Special Operations Unit of Assam Police. He has been booked under Sections of IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The police have launched a crackdown against members of PFI, CFI and other organisations, which were declared unlawful by the Ministry of Home Affairs in September. 

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