Anorak | Made Snana: why poor Indians roll in the rich man’s food leftovers

Made Snana: why poor Indians roll in the rich man’s food leftovers

by | 10th, January 2012

TO India’s Karntaka state, where Hindus are performing ‘made snana’, the act where low caste Hindus roll in the remains of food eaten by high-caste Brahmins in the belief that it will cure skin conditions.The ritual is held in Subrahmanya and Vasuki temples in the region on Subrahmanya Shashti day.

Not everyone thinks it’s all that pleasant or in keeping with go-ahead India.

Panditaradhya Shivacharya Swami, told a meeting of “holy men” in Bangalore:

“If it can cure diseases effectively, the state government should close down all the medical colleges and hospitals. This evil is not less than the tradition of Sati [the banned practice of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands] and child marriage and the government must act tough.”

Campaigner Veerabhadra Channamalla Swami of Nidumamidi Mahasamsthana Mutt says:

“This is to protect human dignity. [A ban] is to oppose obnoxious values and to bring about a progressive change.”

Writer and social critic G. Rajashekhar said the Government thunders:

“The Government has set a precedent by banning social evils such as ‘bettale seve’ (worship in the nude) at Chandragutti, ‘ajalu paddhati’ in the coastal districts and animal sacrifice in temples. There is no weight in the argument that ‘made snana’ involves the belief of people and hence is sacrosanct. There is humiliation of the lower castes involved in the ritual.”

So. Why did over 20 people participate in ‘made snana’ near the Subrahmanya shrine on the Sri Krishna Math/Temple premises last November? Is it because they can’t get access to good healthcare?

The Hindu reports:

Nearly 100 people had their meal near the Subrahmanya shrine in the afternoon. After receiving flowers, ‘tirtha’ and ‘prasada’ from Lakshmivara Tirtha Swami of Shiroor Math, over 20 devotees participated in ‘made snana’. Dewan of the Shiroor Math P. Latavya Acharya said devotees roll over the [plantain]  leaves as part of a ‘harake’ (offering) in return for fulfilment of a wish. The practice has been going on here since the last 500 years. Those who cannot go to Kukke Subrahmanya come here (to perform the ritual).”

A Lakshmivara Tirtha opined:

“If we don’t allow the conduct of the ritual, it will amount to betrayal of the trust of the devotees.”

They role in the rich man’s left over because they need to.

Gururaj Bhat of Pernankila village in Udupi district, says that it works:

“Good things have happened to me due to ‘made snana’.”

Well, for one thing he got his name in the papres. For another, he… Well, he’s not that specific.

The Hindu then reports on how everyone should try it:

The controversial ‘Made snana’ was performed at Prasanna Subramanya temple at Ramanathapura in Arkalgud taluk on Friday, albeit in a different way. The temple belongs to Samputa Narasimha Math of Kukke. Unlike in Kukke Subramanya temple, where people, mostly from backward classes, rolled over plantain leaves with leftover of meals consumed by Brahmins, here Brahmins too rolled over the leaves on which they had food.

If this works, might it not catch on in the UK? Hospital food might be disgusting, but that’s only because you’re attempting to eat it. Better you roll in the stuff. The blancmange with ‘bits in’ a wonderful exfoliant…



Posted: 10th, January 2012 | In: Strange But True Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink