Bizarre Indian Ritual – Food Rolling

January 16, 2016, In: Traditions
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Made Snana- that is the original name of the food rolling ritual practiced in South India by Hindu devotees. In Tulu language, the name of this festival means ‘taking a bath in left-over of a meal.’ That is exactly why it is ‘bizzare’. In this weird religious practice, the apparently lower caste Hindus roll over the plantains leaves thrown away by the Brahmins and other devotees after communal meals in the temples during religious festivals. It is contradicting as these days this ritual has been joined by people from all the varnas; yet that does not stop anybody from figuring out the original inclination at its inception. The Karnataka temples are major patrons of this bizarre event for about 500 years. They call it a ‘tradition’.

Let us go 500 years back. Can you remember the Brahmin raj over the other three castes (marked by these Brahmin, themselves)? That is when all sorts of weird things started. Today, the social and religious scenario of India has changed a great deal. This practice has dalits as well as Brahmin devotees joining together during the Shashti festival. The Karnataka temples hold great communal feasts during the festive periods and the food is served in plantain leaves. After the meal is over theses leaves are thrown away and the rolling over ceremony begins. Hundreds of devotees from all corners of the state are drawn to this ceremony- some participate and some just experience it visually.

After the rolling over ceremony, they take a holy bath in the Kumaradhara River. The devotees believe that this practice would help them get rid of all their Ku-Karmas (sins) of lifetime. A lot also believes that this is a divine practice that can cure and prevent skin disease (well, that’s unlikely in the reality) and other ailments. Many believe that this ritual is a catharsis between the devotee and the God; it’s the driving force of their divine communication. Whatever the consequence, the Made Snana is quite popular in the South.

With the notion of popularity comes the concept of controversy. Made Snana has also invited controversial frowns towards it. This went catastrophic when the groups speaking up for dalits and state backward classes submitted a petition to the court demanding a ban of the ritual. They completely overlooked the fact that even Brahmins and other supposedly higher caste Hindus are also taking part in the practice willingly. Opposition came from the very group whom these societies were said to be representing. The dalits and the Brahmins together fought against the banning plea. Some also challenged the motive behind such call for ban of a custom willfully partaken by all types of people.

With Government having a hand in this matter, the controversy ended in a neo-positive mood. The popularity of this ritual has not died or lessened after any such religious struggle. The ritual is still observed in Karnataka during religious festivals in its full version.

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