30 September, 2020

Here, The Charge Is Neutral

The story of the sacred thread takes a twist in Karnataka, as Lingayat men and women sport it with a small Shivalinga

Inheritance
A Lingayat man wearing the Ishtalinga
Photograph by Getty Images
Here, The Charge Is Neutral
outlookindia.com
2017-12-09T11:17:59+05:30

Unlike in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where the sacred thread and its association with the Brahmin community made it a target of the backward caste movement represented by the Dravida Kazhagam, in Karnataka the significance of the sacred thread is far more diffused.

The non-Brahmin communities, including Kshatriyas and Vaishyas in Karnataka, have had their own system of the sac­red thread that more or less is Brahminical. Community INS­iders say the sacred thread, or the janwaara in Kannada, is a must if one has to marry. Typically, a traditional ceremony is conduc­ted before the marriage rituals, at which point the groom wears the thread. Strictly speaking, the man is manda­ted to have it permanently across his chest for the rest of his life.

The Lingayat community, which has created a flutter by demanding a separate religion status, too has a similar system. But this involves a tiny Shivalinga inside a protective cover that is worn on the person. That is called the Ishtali­nga. The thread in itself is not considered sacred, but the...

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