Upper-caste Lingayats bar entry of Lambanis to temples in Karnataka

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Chikkamagaluru, March 23: Blatantly dumping the values imbibed in the teachings of 12th century philosopher Basava, Lingayats of this remote village, Garagadahalli in the state of Karnataka has totally barred the entry of Lambani caste (Scheduled Caste in Karnataka) to two temples since ages and the same practice is prevailing currently.

Two temples of deity, Lord Veerabhadreshwara (manifestation of Lord Shiva), one located inside the village and another tucked in the hilly region of the outskirts of the village is worshiped and administered by the upper-caste among Lingayat community belonging to Nonaba sect. The community appallingly considers blood of Scheduled Caste, Lambanis as impure to restrict them from taking entry to these two temples.

Lord Veerabhadreshwara

The Lingayats of Garagadahalli which is clipped under Chikkamagaluru district are not origins of this place. As many as 150-200 years back the community as a whole migrated here thereby settling in the place. However the village does not have settlers of diverse castes and the Lambanis are given a separate colony outside the village. The dwelling geography of Lambanis is termed natively as 'Lamnabi Thanda'.

A person from the village, whose family until recently administered the temple exclusively spoke to OneIndia under the condition of anonymity, with a ray of hope that the practice would be abolished in the near future. However currently none of her family members hold the position of office bearer, though some family members attend regular meetings called by the temple committee.

Lord Veerabhadreshwara

"The deity, Veerabhadreshwara was brought to this village, while our ancestors migrated to this locality. But I do not know the history of Lambani migration to this geography," she opened the dialogue. The Lingayats of the village say that blood of the Lambanis considered as impure as they belong to lower- caste and perform menial works in the village.

The practice has been prevalent since 150-200 years back and it is sad that despite rigorous social reformation in the 20th century, the situation in these temples of village remain the same. Lambanis sometimes, observe the rituals of the temple that is located in the hilly region of the outskirts of the village from far distance and the site is a very sad state of affair.

She further providing the details of caste discrimination said top heads of the Lingayat community has created a false theory. "They say, if Lambanis enter the temple then the God would curse the village of dire consequences. The village would reel under severe drought and people die for want of food."

Observing the changes that has occurred during her time, she said recently, around 10 years back, the Lambanis are allowed to step inside the compound of the temple (located at outskirt, not inside the village) but not inside the temple. However to the temple situated inside the village, still they are not allowed to appear even no where near the shrine.

Lord Veerabhadreshwara

"There is a caveat for Lambanis' presence inside the compound of the shrine of the hilly region". They should not take part in the ritual or make their presence in the compound during the ritual. Alongside, Lambanis should not be present inside the compound when upper-caste are served with food during rituals. They can only make inroads to the compound, once all the rituals are finished and all rounds of fooding competed by the upper-caste, she explained.

Where does the values taught by the 12th century Guru Basavanna has gone? She questioned. Lambanis were bonded labourers till 10 years back here, even as bonded labour system had been legally abolished in India in 1976. The villagers have separate plastic glass and plastic plates (or sometimes steel) to serve Lambanis food as a reward for their work apart from salary. Lambanis work in the arable lands owned by Lingayats.

The Veerabhadreshwara temple that has been operating inside the village is more vigilant for socially discriminating the community. "The elders does not want them to see anywhere near the temple," she rued. Besides, the key point she stressed was- voice among Lambanis too has not consolidated to stand and oppose the practice. Lingayats has successfully managed to stop smallest of small awareness on equality and caste discrimination from flowing into Lambani Thandas.

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