Bijapur, Northern Karnataka

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These women let men walk all over them

The Times of India

Sushilendra T Naik | TNN

Bijapur: Bizarre rituals, especially those with religious connotations, find seekers aplenty in our society. One such that took place in Bijapur in northern Karnataka on Friday, in which men carrying a palanquin walk over prone women, makes you wonder if the hotly debated women’s reservation Bill or the recently celebrated International Women’s Day have any resonance in parts of our country. They seem to operate in two separate orbits.

The ritual, it is believed, brings good luck to women who are walked over as the palanquin carries the village deity. It is held annually during the car festival of the Siddappa Mutya Temple at Sungathan village. An interesting aspect of the ritual is that liquor is considered teertha (holy water) and is offered to the gods.

Young men carrying the palanquin consume the liquor and walk 70 km from the temple in Sindagi taluk to another temple on the banks of Krishna at Tangadagi village in Muddebihal taluk. Villagers believe the walk signifies the journey of the deity to the river where he bathes. The idol is washed in the river at Kunchaganur village near Tangadagi. After distributing the liquor teertha, youths stay the night at Kunchaganur. Even children are given liquor as teertha. Tangadagi villagers feed the palanquin carriers and those who accompany them.

It’s at Tangadagi village that men walk over women. The women rise early, bathe and dress up for the ritual. They lie prone on the road in front of the temple. Young men — a minimum of two — who carry the palanquin take this road to go to the temple. Women said they felt ‘‘blessed’’ when men carrying the palanquin walked over their backs.

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