TUMKUR: Though banned by the state government, nude worship to appease Goddess by women continues in Handanakerae village of Chikkanayakanahalli taluk of Tumkur district, as recently as Friday night. It's a remote village in the district, about 100km from Tumkur.
The whole village was euphoric as residents were celebrating the festival of goddess Gonimaradamma. For many decades, women clad only in neem leaves have worshipped her during this festival. The women take a vow that if their prayers are answered, they'll perform bettale seve (nude worship). As per tradition, women wear neem leaves, and with a lock on their mouths, go once around the village. On Friday night, over 100 women worshipped the goddess in this manner, with men looking on.
One such worshipper Rangamma told informed : "I prayed to goddess Gonimaradamma for my family's well-being. She fulfilled my demands and that's why I performed this service. No family member or any villager forced me to do this ritual. I've been getting good things from the goddess and so I do this service for her. What's wrong in it?"
Another villager Ravi said women wearing neem leaves were treated like the goddess and if anyone misbehaved, the goddess would punish them