Kole Basava, the name conjures up images, of colourfully dressed ox and cow- with anklets and bell on the neck, ribbons on the horns, patch-work blankets on the body, with the person accompanying if a male, then dressed in white shirt, a dhoti (a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth tied at the waist, a black coat, with a peta (a type of headgear), a bag and a bamboo stick, if a woman attired in a saree, holding a bamboo stick and a bag. The men also play the Nadaswara, a traditional instrument, to announce their arrival. Moving house to house for blessing people in exchange for food , they would then choose a central place to enact the marriage of Sita and Ram ( Seetharamakalyana). However, the central characters are the animals, who responds to the questions asked by the master, by nodding the head.
However, times change, so does the attire and practice. Presenting the Urban Nomads, the Kole Basava Community, in a 20-episode series, as part of the Urban Narratives program.
Part 3: Interview with Nadupu Durga about Knife sharpening
Most of the male members, from the Basava Community take up other works like masonry, construction, knife sharpening etc, to make ends meet. He says, “Not everyone can learn the Nadaswara. I tried to practice, but since I did not follow the process, I could learn anything…”
I travel by cycle, wandering around the neighbourhood, calling out to people, if they are interested to sharpen the knifes. My wife, takes the cow to the neighbourhood, and she gets food most of the times, the cow gets banana, and money.
The instrument used to sharpen Knife, Scissors and any other sharp object is called as Chana. His work is to carry Chana to different areas and sharpen objects. The instrument Chana is manufactured in Yeswanthpura for which the charges are Rs. 2000/-. They also sell vegetable cutting knife for which they charge Rs.50 to Rs. 60/-
Part 4: Celebrations and other Customs in the Basava Community
We celebrate Oora Habba and at that time we place all things that we use like Dollu ( drum), nadaswara ( a classical musical instrument), and other material used on the ox and cow, in front of the idol and workshop it. Our kula devatha is Venkateshwara. We parade it like procession, in the village. We do this, also when we are moving to another place, more for peace and directions, as we take families and our livestock too. The reason for the community movement, is also for security.
We worship the goddess Aluru Koleramma. The festival is held for three days, food is served at the temple, we normally do not cook. I am not aware of why we came to worship her. The elders prayed and we followed.
Since we are Bangalore, we celebrate Sankranthi and Shivrathri, but for other festrivals we just do a small puja.
For us, the animals are sacred, and so we take utmost care of them. Normally we treat them with home medicines, when they fall ill. In serious cases, we take them to the veterinary hospital. And when they die, we bury them in the graveyard. We cannot sell the cows or ox, as it will be a sin for us.
We never used to celebrate birthdays, but since we are here, our community members cut cake and distribute chocolates. I haven’t done this in my family, but my neighbours do.
Listen in, he talks about the rituals followed when someone from community dies and the names of the ornaments which they use to decorate the animals.