Dalits ‘repent for sins’ in Karnataka’s casteist practice
There is a certain unease in Hariharapur village as around 300 policemen stand guard at a fair, Udusalammana Jatre, being held at the temple of Udasalamma, said to be an incarnation of Durga. While most Dalits participate “willingly” in the rituals, some—the educated youngsters—are opposed to the age-old practice, deemed casteist towards them. Sidi is a ritual in which, one by one, four Dalit men are attached to the tree through metal hooks drilled into their backs, and the tree is then made to rotate. As part of the rituals, a tree is placed on a wooden pulley with its base tethered to a boulder to anchor it. It is believed Sidi is the penalty Dalits agreed to pay to Udusalamma, when one of their forefathers was caught stealing paddy. However, nobody could say how long the ritual has been taking place, or for how much longer Dalits would be penalised.