Monday, June 4, 2012

Kuruba Event 3 - Gorehabba

Gorehabba is celebrated by splashing cow dung on each other. Gorehabba and is similar to the festival of tomatino in Spain where villagers splatter each other with old and rotten tomatoes. Gorehabba is played a day after Balipadayami during Diwali.
Gummatapura is a tiny village situated in the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. Before the villagers start playing with the cow dung, there are a few interesting rituals which are followed. Starting early morning, men, women and children begin collecting cow dung from all over the village and dump it in a place designated for it, behind the Beerappa temple (Beerappa, the patron-god of the Kuruba Gowdas, is called different names like Kurukuntappaswamy, Antharangappa).  Later, half naked children go all around the village collecting oil and butter for offering pooja at the temple. After the required oil and butter are collected, they offer pooja at the Karappa temple which is about one km away from the Beerappa temple. Once the pooja is done, the villagers come back in a procession. On the way back, one person is designated as a Chadikora (sneak). He is then fixed with a mustache and beard made of grass, seated on a donkey and brought to the temple in a procession.

After reaching the temple, the Chadikora's mustache and beard are removed and buried in the pit where the heap of dung has been deposited. Pooja is offered to the heap of cow dung and then starts the fun. Immediately after the pooja is offered, a handful of cow dung is splashed on the priest which is the green signal for the others. Every single person in the village is pushed into the pit and smeared with cow dung. Thousands of people from the nearby villages gather to watch the game. Later, an effigy of the Chadikora is made and taken to the Kondigekara Gudda (a hillock nearby) to be burnt. A chicken too is burnt along with the effigy. The villagers clean themselves in the lake, come back to the village and abuse the Chadikora.

According to a village elders, it all began hundreds of years ago. It was the day after Balipadayami. A person called Devaragudda, hailing from the North, was working as a servant in Kalegowda’s house. After Devaragudda died, his bag and a stick he carried was thrown into a garbage pit. A few days later, a Linga was found in the pit where his things were thrown. A bullock cart which was passing by happened to run over it and the Linga apparently started bleeding. Later, Lord Shiva apparently appeared in the village chief’s dream and ordered him to build a temple for him. The Beerappa temple is situated exactly where the Linga was found. Since then, the next day of Balipadyami is celebrated as Gorehabba.

It is also believed that participating in the cow dung splashing game cures people of all kinds of disease, which is one of the reasons for keeping the tradition alive, even after hundreds of years. BBC has filmed this strange ritual for its programme "Around the world in 80 faiths".

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