MANGALURU: Minister for Kannada and Culture V Sunil Kumar on Thursday announced a monthly pension of Rs 2,000 for ‘Bhootaradhane’ performers aged above 60. The minister posted a tweet in this regard. According to the Karnataka Tourism department website, Bhootaradhane or devil worship is common in coastal districts of Karnataka. Idols representing bhootas are taken out in a procession to the beating of drums and bursting of fireworks.
As the procession ends, the idols are placed on a pedestal. With a sword and jingling bells, a dancer whirls roundin imitation of the devil he represents. Frantically pacing up and down, he enters into a possessed state and acts as an oracle. “Bhoota Kola is performed by a trained person who is believed to have temporarily become a God himself. The performer displays an aggressive outlook, dances fiercely and performs multiple rituals. The performer is feared and respected in the community and is believed to give answers to people’s problems on behalf of God,” points out the website.
‘Kantara’, a Kannada film released recently with Rishab Shetty in the lead role, is based on Bhootaradhane. Rajesh G, Assistant Director, Kannada and Culture Department, Dakshina Kannada, said the department does not have any statistics about the Bhootaradhane performers in the district as no survey
has been conducted so far. However, he roughly put their numbers at 5,000. The performers of Bhootaradhane are Scheduled Castes community and belong to Nalike, Pambada and Parava castes who are mostly farm labourers.
Prabhakar Shantigodu, president, Nalike Samaja Seva Sangha, Belthangady, welcomed the government’s announcement. However, he said along with the performers, the musicians involved in the ritual should also be given pension. Bhootaradhane is performed between October and May. Shantigodu said the performers earn Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,000 per event.