Here, throwing muck is Deepavali indulgence

Here, throwing muck is Deepavali indulgence

Yucky ritual

Here, throwing muck is Deepavali indulgence

People throw muck at each other, literally or otherwise, when they spar over an issue. It’s hardly serious and the occassion in only a Deepavali revelry that unites people from different communities at this village in Tamil Nadu, on the border with Karnataka.  

Cow dung is piled up by dawn on the day after the festival by the side of the Beerappa temple at Gumutapura at Talavadi in Satyamangala taluk of Erode district. The youth in the village toil the previous night to collect cattle excrement of giant proportions and transport it to the temple in bullock carts and tractors. 

Called ‘Gore Habba,’ it is a festival of Kannadigas in the village. The free-for-all begins once the ‘kondigekara’ or ‘chadikora’ (one who carries tales) arrives and the temple priest offers pooja to the pile of dung.

The priest is suddenly a man possessed by the spirit of the deity. Children and youth start throwing dung at each other recklessly, after performing pooja to the deity Karappa and washing the feet of a donkey. The ‘chadikora,’ wearing moustache and beard made of grass, is brought to the Beerappa temple in a procession on the back of the donkey.

Once the youths have their fill of the revelry, an effigy of the ‘chadikora’ made of broomstick grass is taken to a nearby hillock and set ablaze. This is followed by sacrificing chicken. The revellers then head to the village tank to wash off all the dung. They return to the temple and abuse the ‘chadikora’ in foul language.

Village elders claim the ritual strengthens the bond between residents. The practise originally began a hundred years ago, following the death of a servant from the north by name Devaragudda, who worked at Kalegowda’s house.

When Devaragudda passes away, his belongings are thrown out of the house, into a heap of dung. A Shiva ‘linga’ appears there, and when a bullock cart runs over it, the ‘linga’ bleeds.

Soon, the village elders are ordained by Devaragudda in their dreams to observe the annual ritual. The Beerappa temple took shape thereafter at the spot of the dung heap.