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Celebrating caste heroes, for votes

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There has been a surge in celebration of jayantis (anniversaries) in Karnataka in the past five years in an apparent effort to woo people of a particular caste by celebrating remembering their heroes.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah joined this with his decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. His decision to ask the department of minorities to oversee the celebrations lent credence to the charge that he was doing this with an eye on minority votes. “It’s no secret that parties leave no stone unturned to appease members of particular castes -by giving tickets to certain communities to contest polls and giving them prominence in ministries. Now, they’re going the extra yard to observe birth anniversaries of their heroes, not realizing they’re disrespecting them,” said political analyst Sandeep Shastri.

The previous BJP government led by BS Yeddyurappa declared holidays to mark Valmiki and Kanakadasa Jayantis and ear marked a special grant of Rs 50,000 for celebrating Basava Jayanti and Ambedkar Jayantis as the BJP’s bid to woo OBCs, Dalits and Lingayats.

Siddaramaiah is continuing this trend.After celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami for the first time in September to keep his promise to Yadava (Golla) community leaders, Siddaramaiah announced that the government will organise Vishwakarma Jayanti from next year. This community has a population of 35 lakh in the state.

Soon after becoming CM, Siddaramaiah also announced state festivals for Bhagiratha to respect the sentiments of Bestas (fishermen community) and Devara Dasimayya, the hero of the Nekaara (weavers) community . Shastri said jayanthis in fact devalue historical figures by identifying them with a particular caste and limiting them to a single day .

A senior JDS leader said, “What was the need to start such an event when there were concerns over highly vitiated atmosphere prevailing in the country following the Kalburgi and Dadri killings? It just shows they had an agenda.” Siddaramaiah’s supporters defended his move. “The government did not do it on its own. There were several petitions from organisations requesting the government to celebrate Tipu Jayanti,” they said.

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Source: TOI-BGLR

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The Tipu controversy – To avoid controversies, public speakers need to dot their i's and cross their t's

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BENGALURU: Should public speakers be extra cautious about what they say or is too much being read into what they say by some sections who choose to interpret to suit their interests?

Playwright Girish Karnad’s statement on Tuesday , wherein he allegedly suggested that the Kempegowda international airport could have been named after Mysuru king Tipu Sultan as it is in Devanahalli, the birth place of the ruler, caused an uproar. Though Karnad apologized saying he expressed only his personal opinion and that it was not backed by any evil intention and was sorry if his remarks had hurt anyone, the controversy refuses to die.

Former law minister MC Nanaiah said there have been occasions where persons have made provocative speeches and later retracted. “Such speeches have led to law and order problems and divided people on communal lines. Public speakers should also refrain from commenting on personal beliefs and ideology . People who are using social media should also be careful in putting out their views. This should not spread hatred just because they don’t like a particular person and ideology ,” he added. Speaking up for the freedom of expression, Mogalli Ganesh, writer and professor in folklore and Kannada literature, Kannada University, said, “Every writer has individual freedom.But while talking about history , people have to be very cautious because history is a sensitive thing. There is a huge gap between history and the present.During this gap, various opinions have emerged, some opinions right and some wrong. When someone is relating history with the present, that person has to be very cautious. Since some historical issues are sensitive, writers have to be very careful, they should keep their opinions at the personal level.”

Home minister G Parameshwara, who was instrumental in Karnad issuing the apology, said: “Freedom of speech should be given to all. We cannot dictate that a person should speak in this or that manner. But whatever is spoken should be with responsibility taking everyone into consideration.”

However, critic N Manu Chakravarthy feels it was unnecessary of Karnad to have made that statement during the Tipu Jayanthi celebrations. “The occasion did not provide for triggering names after which the airport should be named. Why should we name airports after people? Even if we do, we should use the name of someone who has contributed to the growth of Karnataka. By creating verbal controversies, the names of complex historic figures are being used to serve the narrow political purposes of some politicians,” he said.

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Source: TOI-BGLR

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Curse kept memorial secret for 500 years

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The nondescript village of Kempapura in Magadi taluk, 75km from Bengaluru, holds a secret close to its heart. Of a curse which did not allow its people to talk about Kempegowda, the founder of IT City, for five centuries.

His memorial lay in Kempapura, a hamlet of 60 houses and a population of around 500, with a plaque dating back to the 16th century , yet no one mentioned it. A narrow muddy path leads to the memorial.

The secret is strange: Legend has it that the villagers would not utter the lines on the memorial, “Hiriya Kempegowdaru Kunigalninda bandu e baliye jagala madi, ikyragi kailsakke hoda sthala (Senior Kempegowda who traversed from Kunigal, fought in a battle in this place and travelled to heaven after a heroic death),” for they believed that all those who uttered it would die or their heads would split.The fear is palpable even today.

Last week, a committee of historians confirmed that the memorial was indeed the spot where Kempegowda breathed his last in a battle that took place between 1568 to 1608, and the world heard about Bengaluru’s founder and his last days.

Immadi Kempegowda, the son and successor of Hiriya Kempegowda, built the memorial in his father’s memory and also constructed a tiny Basava temple just opposite the memorial. The speciality of this temple is that Basava sits on Shivalinga, which is uncommon in Hindu mythology .

Respect for their beloved king lived on: every Monday, the villagers of Kempapura offered prayers and arati, and the practice continued till the 17th century . “Hyder Ali and his army was passing through the village, and fearing he would destroy the memorial, locals decided to cover it with shrubs and bushes. For some reason, Hyder Ali camped near Magadi for quite a long time and the villagers stopped approaching the memorial,” recall village veterans. The fear continued even after the death of Hyder Ali.

“Fear of Tipu Sultan or other invaders harming the memorial drove villagers to permanently cover it and they allowed bushes and shrubs to grow on it,” says Chingamma Nanjappa Gowda, 105, the oldest person in the village. Chingamma recalls how the Mysore Maharaja and chieftains often visited the memorial when she was a child. “Later, these visits stopped. I remember my parents narrating stories of heads splitting, that stopped us from venturing near the memorial,” she explained, adding, “Villagers would have a moonlit dinner near the Veera Samadhi.”

Folk songs and short plays were commonly held near the memorial in the early 18th century. Composed in Nadu-Kannada dialect, ancestors would sing lavanis on the Kempegowda dynasty, their heroic acts and sacrifices, recalls Kempapura’s villagers. While the veterans continue with agriculture, the young work in Bengaluru. Ragi is the main produce with silk cocoons as the second.

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Source: TOI-BGLR

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