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Dhandina Maramma

Strategizing a Major Success in Adijan Struggle

As many are aware the Adijan Panchayat Movement in Karnataka and the Booshakthi Kendra at Nelahal have been spearheading a major struggle in Tumkur District to prevent the sacrifice of buffalo during the celebration of the Maramma Festival in villages. The simple reason is that as it is in most indigenous communities of the world buffalo is considered and worshiped as our ancestor and the caste forces sacrifice buffalo as a perpetuation of the free caste labour of the Adijan (Dalits) people. Under the pretext of giving them free meat in abundance, the dominant caste landlords keep the Adijans in eternal ignorance and almost in bonded labour. During the festival and after that the Adijans are forced into free and undignified labour only because they are Adijans, in the identity of their caste.

After our initial struggles for the removal of untouchability practices and stopping of atrocity on Adijans, we decided to take on the caste forces and prevent this totally undignified and atrocious practice of enforcing free caste labour in the name of god and religion. We started from small villages and moved on to bigger and bigger villages. The bigger villages are more problematic as many surrounding villages join them and we had to do a lot of education and mobilization of our people. We had managed to stop the buffalo sacrifice through some major strategic points.

1. Education of our Adijan people not to fall a victim of the desire for free meat
2. Forming teams of volunteers who would move around villages to keep a watch on the presence of buffalos given to Adijans a week before the actual sacrifice.
3. Alerting the police department and ensuring their presence during the night of the sacrifice
In some villages, it was extremely difficult for us to manage the situation as the caste people are hell bent on the sacrifice. We moved carefully one after another into these villages and managed to prevent the sacrifice of buffalo. Two years ago we did this successfully in our own village Nelahal. It was difficult as it was in this village that once the caste people came round Jyothi and Raj with weapons with a clear threat to kill us.

This morning we have just got the news that we have succeeded in our struggle in the biggest temple practice with buffalo sacrifice. It was in Dhandina Maramma Festival in the town of Madhugiri town. This was traditionally a big festival and for many years, we could not imagine that we could take on the temple authorities as the politicians and government officers are office bearers in the management of the temple.

This is how we succeeded

1. We formed a team of our Coordinators who in turn formed a team of local volunteers and had several rounds of planning with them.
2. We prepared a pamphlet in the name of Adijan Panchayat and Booshakthi Kendra requesting the people not to participate in the sacrifice. We also asked the government authorities to prevent the sacrifice with heavy police presence. Usually, we get very good support from the police department. This year the District Collector also gave strict orders to his official team to prevent the buffalo sacrifice in Dhandina Maramma festival.
3. Our team met personally all the top guys in the government and spoke to them twice.
4. We also ensured that Adijan leaders of other Movements joined hands with us physically and not speak against our efforts.
5. Preetam made a secret visit to the temple as a simple student artist visiting the hills in Madhugiri. He was even taken into the sanctum sanctorum and he received prasadam faithfully. He came our with all the plans of the temple authorities for the buffalo sacrifice.
6. Our team organized a Press Conference along with the pamphlet that we had prepared for public distribution. The Media welcomed our move and gave good publicity. They also appreciated our Movement for our innovative struggles.
7. Out team camped in Madhugiri town for a few days and looked out for the many buffalos given by the temple authorities to surrounding villages.

The Success

Last night the temple authorities went ahead with preparations for the buffalo sacrifice with their traditional arrogance and the assumption that no force on earth could prevent buffalo sacrifice. Their goddess Maramma, according to them is the most powerful goddess who even killed her husband and children as they were born of an Adijan father. Maramma was a Brahmin girl who fell in love with a robust Adijan man without knowing his caste. When she came to know she became a murderer. People, including Adijans, had gathered in the temple in large number. But when the time for buffalo sacrifice neared, police got into action and that resulted in a heavy argument with the police by the temple authorities and devotees. Finally, the police had to resort to canning known as ‘lathi charge’ and chase the crowd. They also let loose the buffalos and took away several people to the police station.

For our people and leaders, this was a sweet success of their consistent struggle. We can no rest as the news will spread fast all over the district and we may have not other temple doing this in future. We knew this was going to be our biggest struggle and had to strategize carefully. Finally, we are happy that our strategies worked well. We deserve a pat at our backs and also a good plate of beef to celebrate our success. Nothing tastes as sweet as success and we are enjoying it to the full.