Why people in Tulu Nadu return to pray to Bhootas each year in February

In the month of February, which corresponds with the Tulu month of Maayi, people in Coastal Karnataka are drawn to their Bhoota Illu for Daivaradhane in honour of the family deity. Photo: Shankar Kunjattur

Come mid-February, which corresponds with the Tulu month Maayi, and the hustle and bustle in coastal districts of Karnataka, including Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, begins to rise. Bus and train stations get busier than is usual, while villages start swelling with people who had left them in search of better livelihoods. It is in Maayi that people are drawn to their Bhoota Illu (house of Bhoota) for Daivaradhane (worship of Daivas) in honour of the family deity, who stay back at the family homes in remote villages as people move to far away cities. The distance notwithstanding, the ties with the Daivas, considered to be the provider and protector, stand strong, drawing people back to the deity each year.

“I attended the Daivaradhane and performed the Bhoota rituals on Monday [February 13] at my maternal ancestral home at Bantwala in South Kanara district. I make the return journey to Bantwala every year since I firmly believe in the power of my family deity Kallurti,” Narayan Uppiyan, who works as a software engineer in Bengaluru, told The Federal.

The Tuluvas practice a matrilineal system, which traces kinship through the female line. Culturally, Tuluvas are happier having daughters than sons. A famous saying that captures the sentiment prevalent in the region goes like this, “If a daughter is born, the family grows; but if a son is born, the family will not continue further.”

A direct bearing of the culture is seen in the fact that children return to their Taravadu (matrilineal house) to offer prayers to Bhoota, the family deity, and the deity of their mother’s house is their Bhoota Illu.

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