14 May, 2021

Vachana Versus Vachana

Theology and politics? Questions of self-definition roil Lingayat country ahead of polls.

Seers’ Meet
Jayamrithunjaya, Siddhalinga, Shivamurthy Murugha
Photograph by Getty Images
Vachana Versus Vachana

In a corner of the bustling street leading to the Moorusavira Matha in Hubli, the familiar rhythm of rotis being pounded into shape wafts up from a tiny shop next to a Lingayat khanavali. It is not far from where BJP president Amit Shah’s election road show is passing by, with saffron flags, drums and slogans. Here, you get both the brittle and soft rotis that are the vital underpinnings of the meal served with sabzi, curd and she­nga (groundnut) chutney in these khanavalis or canteens across the wide swathe of northern Karnataka where the Lingayat community is spread out. In sharp contrast to this common menu, there’s an unfamiliar ingredient that’s been tossed into the election spread in these parts.

Manjunath brings his dilemma into perspective, while managing the store-front with a toddler in tow while two women in an inner room beat out the rotis. From his customers, he hears both sides of the debate. Some insist that if the Lingayat faith gets recognised as a min­ority religion, it would help with their children’s education. Others...

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