HALLIKEREHUNDI (CHAMARAJNAGAR District): This tradition blurs the social stigma attached to dalits, though for just a week. Prior to the annual fair of village deity Bajjamma beginning April 11, Hindus call dalits to their homes and worship them.
Dalits from neighbouring villages dressed as cannibals (Kalibalis in local parlance) visit houses in the village dominated by Lingayats. They are welcomed with garlands, taken to inner precincts (entry to which is otherwise barred for dalits), worshipped and offered foodgrains.
“At least for a week, unmindful of social stigma, Hindus embrace us,” says Kemparaju, Gananganur village panchayat member, who led Kalibalis on Thursday. “This tradition has reduced hatredness about dalits. The festival has succeeded in bringing closer dalits and other communities,” says Nanjundaswamy, another dalit from the village.