Nov 24, 2007

Jains in Tulu Nadu

Though their population is around 50,000 in thetw in districts of DK and Udupi, the Jains enjoy a place of pride and prestige in Tulu Nadu, thanks to the rich historical and cultural background.

History has it that Jains entered the region in 7th century and made their foothold in 14th and 16th centuries. But the local Jains, who speak Tulu, claim to be the sons of the soil.

In ancient days, Jains formed the administrative class with agrarian background. The Jain kings were Bairarasa of Karkala, Chowtas of Moodabidri, Samanthas of Moolky, Bangas of Bangavadi, Tholaharas of Sural and Ajilas of Venur. Queen Abbakka, who successfully checked the colonial powers like the Portuguese, belonged to the Chowta family.

During the British Raj, the Jains continued as the subordinate administrative class and flourished as agriculturists.

Rapid social changes were witnessed following the Land Reforms Act in1964. We lost our lands and were compelled to look for other sourceof living. This facilitated our people venturing into business, trade and service sector. As a result, the community began giving importance to education and many educational institutions were established, said K Hemaraj, convener, Sri Digambara Jain VidyaVardhak Sangh of Moodabidri.

The Jains here are recognised by two groups- Shravakas or householders and Purohithas, the priestly class. Both the groups belong to the Digambara sect. Many of their rituals appear similar to that of the Vedic ones, but there are differences in the manner they are celebrated.

The most important ceremony is Noola Shravana, a mass thread wearing ceremony.

Diwali is another important day as it is believed that the last JainTeerthankara Mahaveera attained salvation on this day. However, the biggest socio-religious gathering is Rathotsava. The event is celebrated with religious fervour and traditional gaiety. The Jains here also take part in folk rituals like Bhootaradhane. But insteadof sacrificing animals, they offer vegetables and fruits.

Marriages were a 5-7 day affair in olden days, today however, it islimited to two days. Traditionally, the marriages were held in the groom's house but these days the venue is the bride's house. Unlike earlier when the brother-in-law played an important role in marriages, now parents do everything as the community has given up the matriarchal system.

-Times News Network

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