Troubling kids in name of tradition !

Posted on Dec 20th, 2010 and filed under Special Report.

VITTAL : One has to believe it, if someone says that there still is a practice of torturing

kids in the name of traditions and beliefs even in this scientific age in Dakshina

Kannada district, considered the land of the intelligent. Even now, a tradition of dipping

little children in the freezing waters of a river, in the dead of the night, is being practiced

in the form of Harake in Vittal of Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada district. The

Harake is offered amid cries of the kids.

Such a queer tradition is practiced in Kepu Ullalti Ammanavara Kshetra in Vittal. This

Kshetra is known as the abode of Ullalti Goddess who is said to fulfill the prayers of the

devotees. Abundant funds also flow into the Kshetra from the devotees.

But, during the annual festival of this temple, tiny tots are dipped in the water and are

made to offer Pradakshine at the temple in wet clothes itself.

As part of Harake, devotees dip their children in the river water even as the kids begin

to cry unable to bear the cold. Here too there is a speciality, the children of Brahmins

cannot offer this Harake.

This Harake seve is offered only on the day of the festival of the Temple. At midnight the

fast asleep kids are woken up and dipped in the water and then brought to the temple. A

person standing in the middle of the river, takes hold of the child and dips it in water.

The manner in which he does this gives one the impression as if he was either dipping a

hen or a sheep. As the kids begin crying uncontrollably, the parents heave a sigh of relief

that their harake has been offered.

But interestingly, Dalits and women are denied entry into this temple Though this is the

temple of Ullalti Goddess, women cannot offer Archane or any Seve to the Goddess or

even donations. The only thing they can do is to watch everything standing far off. But,

women should not be seen anywhere in the precincts once the Nema of the Devi begins.

There is an urgent need to put an end to such superstitious practices which torture kids in

the name of Harake. Steps need to be taken to ensure that Dalits and women are allowed

entry into this temple.

© The Canara Times Group, India.