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
June 8,2024

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New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee passed the resolution that party MP Rahul Gandhi should be appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, sources said today.

Rahul Gandhi won the Lok Sabha elections from Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala.

"All members have given their proposal to the party president. Rahul ji has requested some time to think. However, we want him to stand as strong Leader of Opposition," said All India Mahila Congress president Alka Lamba.

After the CWC meeting, Congress MP Kumari Selja said, "It was the CWC's wish that Rahul Gandhi be elected the LoP..."

Senior Congress leader and newly elected MP from Alappuzha KC Venugopal said "CWC unanimously requested Rahul Gandhi ji to take the responsibility of the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha."

The CWC resolution praised Rahul Gandhi for his efforts in the election campaign.

"Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has to be singled out largely because of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra that he designed and led. Both these Yatras that reflected his thinking and personality were historic turning points in our nation's politics and instilled hope and confidence in lakhs of our workers and crores of our voters. Rahul Gandhi's election campaign was single-minded, sharp and pointed and more than any other individual it was he who made the protection of our republic's Constitution the central issue in the 2024 elections. The PaanchNyay-Pachees Guarantee programme which resonated so very powerfully in the election campaign was the outcome of Rahulji's yatras in which he listened to the fears, concerns and aspirations of all people, especially youth, women, farmers, workers, Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and minorities," it said.

The meeting of the extended Congress Working Committee was held in the national capital on Saturday. The meeting was attended by Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Manish Tiwari, DK Shivakumar, and Revanth Reddy among others.

Speaking after the CWC meeting, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari said, "Definitely he (Rahul Gandhi) should become (LoP in Lok Sabha). This was the request of our working committee. He is fearless and courageous."

Earlier in the day, several party leaders voiced their demand that Rahul Gandhi should take over the key role.

Speaking on the same, Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy said that this is the demand of 140 crore Indians.

"Our demand is the same as that of 140 crore Indians. Rahul Gandhi has to take the position as the leader of the Opposition. Rahul Gandhi has been fighting for women and the unemployed," he said.

Congress MP Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who won the Lok Sabha election from Gurdaspur said that Rahul Gandhi is someone who can reply to the Prime Minister in the Parliament and hence he should assume the position of LoP.

"We will play the role of a strong Opposition in the Parliament. Yes, we want the country to get such a face who can reply to the Prime Minister. I think the entire country wants this," he said.

After the Lok Sabha Polls, the Congress has emerged as the second-largest party in the election and improved its tally to 100, from 52 in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

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News Network
June 17,2024

An Indian expatriate working in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk, has been cleared of allegations related to a hacker's scam and is now permitted to return to India for leave. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, hails from the outskirts of Mangaluru city in Karnataka.

Employed by the Greek company for nearly three years, he had been diligently performing his duties. On November 15, 2022, he received a call from an individual pretending to be an officer from the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry. The “officer” informed him that his Iqama (Residency Permit) was about to expire and sent him an OTP (One-Time Password) to validate it. Trusting the caller’s identity, the man accepted the OTP and continued his work without issues until he planned to take a vacation.

On September 30, 2023, while traveling from Tabuk to Jeddah International Airport for his flight to India, he was contacted by his company and instructed to return to Tabuk because his exit re-entry had not been processed due to a case against his Iqama.

Upon his return, he discovered that SAR 17,000 had been withdrawn from a citizen’s bank account through his account. The man had no knowledge of this transaction and did not have any money in his account. Recalling the OTP incident from a year earlier, he realized he had been a victim of a cyber-scam.

A case was filed against him at the concerned police station, and he made a clear statement to the police about the incident. After an investigation lasting more than nine months, he was exonerated and is now allowed to go on leave to India.

The man expressed his gratitude to all those who supported him during the ordeal, including the authorities, his company, and social workers advocate P. A. Hameed Padubidri and Naufal Mulky for their unwavering support and constant follow-up.

This incident serves as a stark warning to other expatriates: be cautious and vigilant against unknown callers and unsolicited requests for sensitive information.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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Yusuf Pathan, the swashbuckling all-rounder from Baroda, will soon be rubbing shoulders with the bigwigs in the Lok Sabha. 

The 41-year-old former cricketer, who made his electoral debut on a Trinamool Congress ticket from West Bengal's Baharampur, has upset Congress heavyweight Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. 

Rejecting Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, its five-time MP from this so-called ‘Congress fortress’, voters elected Trinamool Congress candidate and former India all-rounder Yusuf Pathan by a comprehensive win margin of over 85,000 votes.

Owing to Chowdhury’s defeat in Baharampur, which remained among the last-standing perceived Congress fortresses of the state, the Trinamool Congress had its flag grafted and flying from the region for the first time ever.

Pathan was a member of the Indian cricket team that lifted the inaugural ICC World T20 trophy in 2007. Less than a year later, he excelled with both bat and ball to guide Rajasthan Royals to the Indian Premier League title in the marquee tournament's first edition. 

But Pathan's laurels did not end there. He was a member of the victorious Kolkata Knight Riders team that won IPL twice in 2012 and 2014. 

Despite being the elder of the two brothers, Yusuf made his international debut three years after Irfan.

His ability to turn matches around with his power-hitting and crucial wickets made him a vital player for India in shorter formats as he became a member of the MS Dhoni-led batch of 2011 that lifted the ODI World Cup.

Cut to 2024. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee picked Pathan as a surprise pick to take on Chowdhury, who belongs to the INDIA bloc ally Congress. 

Pathan said he has immense respect for the Congress leader. “I respect Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury a lot. He is a senior leader. I give my best wishes to him... I will open a sports academy to encourage children to represent the state and country... The people have given their support to me,” he was quoted by ANI as saying. 

Besides Chowdhury, Yusuf had to take on BJP's Nirmal Chandra Saha, a known doctor from the region and also deal with the "outsider" barbs from the opposition.

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