“Tiger” ritual slowly fading in northern Karnataka

DC | SHIVAKUMAR G. MALAGI
Published Nov 14, 2013, 2:44 pm IST
Updated Jan 20, 2016, 3:22 pm IST
Moharram ritual fades with artistes getting old in north Karnataka.
An artiste dressed and painted as a tiger which is a tradition during Moharram in districts of north Karnataka
 An artiste dressed and painted as a tiger which is a tradition during Moharram in districts of north Karnataka
 
BellaryCome Moharram and you see children playing with “tigers” in  the northern districts of the state in a ritual that has spelt communal harmony for years.  Painting themselves to resemble the big cats,  Hindus and Muslims of villages wear tiger masks and hit the streets dancing to the beat of drums before  seeking the blessings of elders who give them an ‘inam” (money) in return. 
 
But the “tiger” ritual is slowly fading in many villages today. “A few years ago I painted about 200 persons,  both  Hindus and Muslims to resemble a tiger, but in the last three or four years I have painted  less than 50”,  says Mahesh, an artist from Hospet.
 
Bheemappa, 50,  of Nagalapur village in Hospet who  has been participating in the Moharram ritual for  20 years, says he is not able to do so anymore  as he is getting older and is finding it difficult to dance to the  drums  for a week.
 
Honnur Swamy of Agasanuru village in Siruguppa taluk explains that  educated youth are now reluctant to continue with the “Huli kunitha” tradition as they feel its beneath their dignity to dance on streets  tigers. 
 
But youth from both  communities are still enthusiastic about carrying the “panja” over burning coal from one  mosque  to another in villages or towns late at night in procession.
Location: Karnataka




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