Culture and language are intertwined in the relationship that people share with nature. As a city and its culture evolve, a lot of its traditional practices often get left behind. Growth and change are inevitable and essential parts of community life, but it is also necessary to preserve and keep in touch with our roots. This episode of Eco Talk with RJ Vijaya, Vijay Nishanth and Rakshith is about caring for nature as well as our unique cultural practices.
Rakshith talks about the ‘100th Moonlight Song’ event at the Kadumalleshwara Temple organised by the Kadu Malleshwara Friends Association. The celebrations are observed on every full-moon day. It is called the ‘Hunnime Haadu’ and several cultural events take place on the day. The focus is to care for ‘Nela, Jala, Hasiru, Samskruthi’, that is, ‘Earth, Water, Trees and Culture’. The celebrations focus on reviving the lost glory of certain areas of Banglore, to make them as vibrant as they used to be. In the past, many streets used to be identified by the trees that spread across them, like the ‘Sampige’ (champak) Road at Malleshwaram. In time, the indigenous Sampige trees were replaced by exotic species. Taking on the responsibility for reversing this trend, the surrounding localities have re-planted 209 Sampige trees; the people even keep a regular check on the saplings.
While the ‘Kadalekai Parishe’ (groundnut fair) is popular only in South Bangalore, the ‘Geleyara Balaga’ is popular in Malleshwaram and was equally successful. Fairs and celebrations are held every year in the state to honour the harmonious relationship we share with nature. However, in a metropolitan area like Bangalore, which is turning busier with each passing day, a lot of these fairs do not find enough popularity. Rakshith talks fondly about the ‘Bengaluru Karaga’ (a fest that is based on a Mahabharatha myth), and the ‘Kadalekai Parishe’, as well as other equally beautiful but lesser-known fairs that are conducted in other parts of the city. He also talks about the nomadic cultures associated with these fairs.
“Some farmers constantly travel from one ‘jatre’ to another once the harvest season is over. The Balaga serve food and provide shelter to these farmers. The fair goes on for three days and the response from people is usually overwhelmingly supportive.”
Another such community celebration is the ‘Hasiru Chaitanya Utsava’. Rakshith mentions that community members see divinity in trees; at these events, there is talk about the traditional ‘Vana Bhojana’ (forest meals). They also try to demonstrate the nuances of their culture through their stalls and exhibitions. For instance, stalls showcasing different strains of the betel leaf, the banana fruit and the jasmine flower from different parts of Karnataka is in the works.
The effort is to move beyond stereotypes at many levels. Rakshith says that their motivation is mainly to bring all Kannadigas together. Women, all well-educated, have played the role of ‘Nagaris’ with all their strength on display, challenging the common notion that it should only be played by Dalit men. Muslim singers have been invited to the programs where they have sung about Hindu Gods. “The scientific purpose of these celebrations was the focus and not commonly-held biased opinions. The event showed that we are greater than our religious and ideological differences.”
The three also discuss the positive vibes spread by the event. Celebrating nature and the practices of a community not only remind us of our shared cultural memories but also unite us at a fundamental level.
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