By Team Mangalorean
Pics Rajesh Shetty
MANGALORE, May 1, 2010: Dakshina Kannada is a wonderland of folk theatre, there are many boothas (spirits) which has religious and social connotations. But the Siri Jathre is a tradition that is restricted to a small area in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district. These Jathre are held annually in four places, Nandalike and Hiriadka in Udupi district, Kavatharu and Nidgal near Ujire in Dakshina Kannada district.
It is a ritual that is stated to relieve the female psyche from its inhibitions. According to Expert commentary of Siri jathre written by Prof. Chinnappa Gowda and Prof. B.A. Vivek Rai it is a unique way of comforting the female psyche. The women in rural areas undergo various types of social and religious trauma. Many of them are dominated by the males in their society or family. The domineering is so intense and long standing the women forget to express their thoughts and their sentiments which creates a sort of deep rooted tension in their minds. This alters their social behaviour and later in the life they become retards as they are not given a chance to vent out their frustration.
Siri Jathre is one event that allows the troubled female psyche to relieve it. The women who come in large numbers from all parts of the rural areas in these districts go into a trance and chant songs in their own tribal languages. Tuluvas are the best enactors of these rituals.
The Siri Jathre was held at Kavatharu here was participated by over 1000 women. They had come from deep tribal areas in the Western Ghats. It is customary that the Siri Jathre enactors will have to wear a white saree and wear flowers on their head as well as neck. They get into a trance when the singing of Pardhanas (a ritualistic rap) begins. The Pardhana artiste has a unique voice that takes the women into a trance.
The trance is nothing but a deep introspection by the women which brings out their deep rooted frustration and they start to express their frustrations in many ways some act as animals, some as birds and some as demons and spirits. There are eerie scenes of women eating live chickens and attack their male partners or even the male members of their families. But once they are finished they become normal. Though the Jathre is being held for two days the Siri Pardhana is only for few hours. Many of the women get exhausted and collapse during the act but when they are revived they appear to get more strength.
The Siri Jathre has to be invariably on a full moon day (Hunnime) which enhances the strength of the female psyche says the experts.
According to Padma Prasad Ajila chief of the Kavatharu Siri Jathre committee, this unique Tuluva ritual has to be held every year between February and May on a full moon day. The jathre has participation from thousands of female devotees slipping into a sort of trance after being ‘possessed’ simultaneously by Siri spirits, they are mainly from dalit groups and tribal areas.