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Fire Leap Ritual is Today's Big Event

A pastoral corner in Jayanagar gets its cows to jump over a blaze for Sankranti every year. The community believes the tradition has been alive here for at least four centuries

Published: 15th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2015 10:47 PM   |  A+A-

cow

KANAKANAPALYA: Adjoining the posh Jayanagar, this little enclave has kept a Sankranti folk tradition alive for centuries.

Every year, it gets its cattle to leap over a fire, in a ritual called Kichchu haayisodu in Kannada.

Near Madhavan Park, on Mariappa Road, 150-200 cows perform the feat on January 15 this year. Just three decades ago, the area was still open and provided space for the folk festival. Buildings have now claimed the expanses, and the festival has spilled over the streets, but the spirit endures.

K M Nagaraj, Congress leader and resident of Kanakanapalya, has taken the initiative to keep the practice alive.

M P Jayaram, a Congress worker who helps organise the festivities, says the practice dates back to Bengaluru founder Kempe Gowda’s time (16th century).

“We have been doing this for many generations,” he tells City Express.

The two-day celebrations began on Tuesday with a competition: owners milked their bovines on the spot, and the cow that yielded the most won a prize.

Sankranti (Thursday) begins with bathing and decking up of the cows. Old ropes around the neck are changed for new ones. Each of the 20 families in the community vie for their cows to emerge the best-dressed. Some cows even have balloons tied to painted horns, others have anklets. They even have a beauty pageant, but pregnant cows are barred from taking part in it.

R Chandrashekhar owns 16 cows, and some of them routinely bag prizes every year. “Last year, two of them dazzled everyone with fairy lights,” he says. This year, beads add to the colour, not to speak of LED lights.

Ellu-bella (the sesame, jaggery, copra, peanut mixture), kabbu (sugarcane) and huggi (spice rice) are fed to the cows and distributed as prasad as well.

“At 6.30 in the evening, the cows are first taken to the Patalamma temple and made to circumambulate the shrine. After this, the fire ritual begins on the street. The festivities last a couple of hours,”Jayaram says.

It is believed that the practice helps cleanse the cattle of any infections in the legs. Apart from cows and oxen, buffalos and sheep are also made to leap over the ritual fire.

Kichchu Haayisu, 9th Main, 4th Cross, Kanakanapalya, 2nd Block, Jayanagar, after 6.30 pm. For details, call Chandrashekhar 94496 72305.



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