Halakki Rituals, Gods and beliefs
Rituals have been consummate index of the cultural excellence in a community as they express regularly the community’s tribute to the creator for the endowment of cultural graceness in the setup. They also break the tedium of routine. Throughout the year Halakki-vokkaligas struggle hard just to make their both ends meet. And, hence, the need to diversion and to rejuvenate the spirit of life has to be treated as a part of these rituals. Seasonal festivals have often defined the social means and ends. The tribe, claiming itself as immediate son of soil, has taken to farming not as a profession, but as a worship under the very benediction of nature. Their festivals are programmed according to the agricultural schedule. Harvest festival or Suggi¬ Habba is the most sacred festival. The occasion is used to pay tributes to the nature for having blessed them with rich harvest. They have timed it during Holi. Colorful attire and flags, exhilarating music from Gumate create a festive environment wherein the community dances run riot to forget the tedium. Many folk songs of unsung and unknown poets have been sung. Thus this festival is a mixture of worshiping the benevolent creator and also a process of breaking the tedium of routine life.
The festivals are, in a sense, a potential old theatre for this tribe. These festivals are totally different from the festivals which could be found with other tribes. When compared to other tribal festivals these are completely free from violence, sacrifice, blind-belief and hierarchical differences. Particularly their congregation on the banks of river Aghanashini is a grand display of beauty, innocence and broadness in their perspective. All the wild observances such as sacrifice, penance through infliction of body assault, mouth-locks and so on are completely missing. It is an open expression of their broad mind and imagination. The second day of the festival is marked with fancy dresses. This is called “hagarana” which means the assembly of all kinds of fancy dresses representing peculiar characters of the society around them. The men take pleasure in donning the costumes and aping the characters of civilized world. It also makes fun of the elite culture by fancying them — wearing costumes of a big man with cooling glasses, thief, police constable, college-going boys and girls, drunkard, hen-pecked husband, bearded sardarji, white-robe pastor etc. At the end of the day they receive blessings from their village elders and pledge to meet again in the next festival. This is not just an entertainment, rather here we can observe the values such as egalitarianism and criticism of snobbery. It is also an opportunity for them to give vent to their hidden creativity.
A community’s cultural richness can be understood in their worship of Gods. Nature is the god of the halakki vokkaligas. The earth that gives them bountiful harvest, water that quenches their thirst, air that gives them life, the sky that brings them rain are their fundamental deities. The sun, the moon, the stars are worshiped for they lead them through the wilderness of life. The earth, the sun, the sky and all others are the main characters of their puranas. Trees, plants like Tulasi and Tumbe, animals like tiger and pig, birds like parrot and pegion and cattle are venerated. The peculiar names they give to their people like ‘sari’ (name of the star), ‘chomi’ (soma — name of the moon), and ‘aithu’ (adithya, the sun), ‘buddu’ (the name of the week) and so on show their concern with the nature. In this way they are in essence nature worshipers.
They also worship woman as shakti. In the past when men go outside in search of food it is the responsibility of women to look after the family and the farms around. Hence she is compared with mother earth. Women is worshiped as sign of fertility also. Therefore, we find Kanainma (mother of forest), Devikanamma, Karikanamma as the nature goddesses taking care of the forests. Masti, Aremasti, Huchhamasti and other village goddesses like Marikamba, Kalikamba, Chowdi, Kogthi and so on have become the performances of these goddesses. Man’s role in cow rearing and hunting is not ignored. Hence, Veeras and jattigas are also worshipped. With the changing time they too shifting towards other mainstream gods. Inspite ofthat changes in essence even today they remain to a large extent nature worshippers. At the same time the shakti worship also remains with them even today without much change.
Watch out for part –3 to know about status of Woman and their Democaracy