Little traditions like spirit worshiping are prevalent all over India. These spirits do not have a physical form and are not part of the Hindu pantheon of the idol-worshiping tradition. These spirits have evolved much before the evolution of religion and perhaps when the human race was in the hunting-gathering stage of social formation.
One such spirit is Koragajja considered to be the most sacred spirit in the coastal region of Karnataka. Koragajja’s sway extends from Ullal in Mangalore till Kundapura in Udupi. As one proceeds from south to north, the spirit is called by several names. In the Mangalore region, it’s called Koragajja.
Recently, Koragajja was in news due to a foolish act by one Umar-Ulla-Bashith, a native of Uppala from Kasargod district Kerala. Bashith went for his wedding to Bantwal taluk, some 25 km east of Mangalore city where he later dressed in Koragajja attire and made videos.
The wedding took place in the afternoon and the same night, the groom arrived at the house of the bride with more than 50 of his friends for dinner. The groom’s party made him wear a cap made of arecanut plant and took him in a procession. They painted the groom like Koragajja and made him dance and filmed it from their video cameras. The video of the dance has since gone viral on social media, enraging some sections of the public.
Bashith and his friends didn’t know that their innocent act and mischievous prank may hurt the religious sentiments of some who objected to the innovative ways of the bridegroom.
A 27-year-old youth Chethan, a resident of Vitlapadnur village Bantwal taluk, filed a complaint at Vittal police station against Bashith. The complaint said that the bridegroom has tried to disturb the social harmony and created enmity between the religious communities donning Koragajja attire and making its video. This has hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindus.
The news prompted the pro-Hindutva activists to swoop on the bride’s house at Kolnad and gherao the premises in protest. This made the Vittla police raid the bride’s residence and arrest the bridegroom under IPC sections 153a and 295. The police also detained the protesters whom they took to the police station and released them.
The incident though very trivial raises the question that how little tradition of India is being swallowed by the Hindutva brigade calling them to be Hindu in origin. Such ideas are being challenged by a local activist who sees the little relationship with Koragajja and organized Hindu religion sourced from Vedas, manusmiriti, and such religious texts.
As the tradition goes Koragajja spirit is evoked when people are in grave difficulty or have lost something or need success in work or business. People pray to the spirit with the vow to offer things favorite to Koragajja if their wishes are being fulfilled.
As an act of worship, cultural and traditional extravaganza ‘Kola’ is organized annually to please the spirit of Koragajja and to get its blessings for their wellbeing.
There are many instances where people have prayed and their prayers have been answered. This has made the existence of Koragajja quite believable. The spirit is considered the savior of humans and it’s worshiped as it makes people happy and keeps them safe.
The narration of this story is important because how the great tradition called Hindutva is engulfing the little traditions of India is here for display.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Views expressed are personal