On the background of socio-religious setting, words are born out of ideas and experiences in physical and mental planes, as well as objects and events. Some words possess acquired or derived meanings,besides the original, with a tint of sacredness as we have seen in the case of ‘Odi’ elsewhere in our Tulu Studies. Gadi and Gaduvaadu are the words, which have acquired sacredness in Tulu psyche over the years.
Beliefs and Rituals
As Voltaire* says, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him”. Religion is a system of beliefs, inter alia, involving worship of natural and super natural powerful forces or beings. Awe and fear inspiring phenomena are the basis of all religions from primitive era to present and are ever evolving in various levels of advancement of mankind.
In organized religions of civilized societies, known as ‘large-scale societies’, there are priests and priestesses. In small-scale societies, we see mediums, shamans and mediators. Believers in unorganized societies live in isolated pockets ofvillages and hilly tracts and mountainous areas.
Natural religion is the religion of primitive races, who still live in tribal communities. Their Gods are personification of natural forces. Their family bond-ship is paramount in contrast to large-scale societies. They are very much active in recreating and revitalizing their own culture when threatened of acculturation to the culture of another society that dominates them. This millenarian movement was evident when Brahmanism entered Tulu Nadu many centuries before pre-Christian era (qv Parashurama legend). Brahmans were brought again to Tulu Nadu by Kadamba King Mayurvarma. Subsequently even they espoused animanism and started worshipping ancestral spirits and other spirits, embodied in natural objects. Now,many Brahmin households have their own family deities in Tulu Nadu, besides Vedic Gods.The assimilation of Vedic culture and Non-Vedic culture is evident in the worship of Divine spirits within the precincts of Temples, under the supervision of Brahmins, local feudal chieftains and merchant class and community leaders.
Rituals, irrespective of various cultures, are performances in a peculiar style at a place and at a set location and arerepetitive in nature year after year. These rituals are both religious and non-religious, i.e. secular. Secular things are mostly worldly and are specific customs of a village or group of villages.
Gadbad vs. Gaduvādu
While travelling in an Express Bus during my recent visit to native place,I descried the word Gaduvaadu in a banner about a Kola or Nema (=annual celebration) of a certain Bhoota (=Divine Spirit). I had heard of ‘Gadbad Kola’ in my formative days in native place. The notion being entertained by me then was that it is an annual celebration full of noise, disturbance and confusion (a mixed up thing as is ‘Gadbad Ice Cream’, which is a preparation of milk and fruit varieties mixed and cooled, giving varied tastes).
Let us study relevant words, surrounding spirit worship, which acquired ‘sacredness’ from the word ‘gadi’.
Gadi and Gadu
Means a boundary, limit and frontier, signifying authority. In day to day usage, gaDi (D pronounced as in Daughter) means wound, cut, opening, path, part of a broken coconut, and space in time and place. There is an opinion that ‘gaDi’ is derived from ‘gati’, which means support and protection.
The word means ‘stay or halt’. The place of halting is called ‘gaduvādu jāge’ (qv. Tulu Lexicon, p. 1047). In Divine Spirit (Bhoota) worship, it means ‘a dedicated place for performing Bhoota Kola around a temple or shrine. So it signifies to jurisdiction of a spirit in between two localities. Here, we can visualize the confrontation between divine spirits over the lordship of an area. Specific ‘paDdanas’ highlight heroic deeds of these spirits. It is not possible to delve deep into these Ballads for the sake of brevity.
A Bhoota worshipped in a fixed place or a locality or border of a region (qv. TL, p. 1046).
It is a ritual of Bhoota worship arranged in a fixed time. (TL, p.1045)
It means the honour given to the head of a village or community (TL,p. 1044).
Gadi Enne Korpuni
Before initiating a patri or impersonator for ‘Darshan’, i.e. possession of a deity on the medium, coconut oil is given with a prayer. He applies this oil to his head and take a bath and stands ready for Darshan.
It is a ‘preliminary ritual in Bhoota worship, in which the impersonator goes towards the border regions coming under the influence of that shrine to establish his authority over the region.
It is a ‘prasada’ (symbolic blessings of the deity, in the form of sandal paste in a betel leaf with flowers), given at the border of jurisdiction of the deity. In temple procession, it is the ‘prasada’ given to the organizer of by the ‘patri’, carrying the idol.
He is the ‘guardian angel of a village’.
Superstition & Daivāradhane
Superstition is a belief in super natural causation that one event leads to the cause of another without any natural process. It is a blindly accepted belief or notion on particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding or the like. Two events are linked here, as we find in astrology, omen, witchcraft, etc.
There was a political move to bring in a Bill to prohibit superstitions, inter alia, bringing ancient Daivaaradhane culture (Worship of Divine Spirits), vibrant in Tulu Nadu and tribal belts, under the purview of Superstitions. This move was abandoned on popular uproar and discussions in social forums. Men in authority glossed over the matter that the move was a loud thinking.
It is worthwhile to consider whether Daiva (Divine Spirit) worship is a superstition or otherwise. It is a universal belief that souls or spirits are indestructible. Modern Science also admits this. They are only the subtle parts of the manifested forms of the Absolute Power or Energy (Para Brahma)at rest or not manifest. They acquire super natural power or divinity on death of bodies in which they reincarnated. They are worshiped as family deities and deities of a village or communities spanning several villages. They don the garb of a secular deities to punish wrong-doers and protect the upright.
The act of interceding with deities is done by a guttinaar, gurikara (village head or community leader) or any honourable person. They are all anointed persons. Daivaaradhane is a time-honoured custom, having a psychologically healing effect
*Note on Voltaire
Francois-Maire Arouet(1694-1778), a French writer, philosopher, playwright and historian with Penname “Voltaire”, was famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church and advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and separation of Church and State. His unorthodox views cost him imprisonment several times by monarchial regime. He was against the then prevailing conception on historyof documenting only of political, military and diplomatic events. He emphasized on the cultural history - the arts, the science and the customs. His own words on God are:
“It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme intelligent being. This is no matter of faith but of reason.”
· Our previous Posts Nos. 62 (Characterisation of Spirits-1), 233 (Panjurli), 250 (Olasari to Varsari), 306 (Mayandaal), etc.
· Anthropology of Religion
· Tulu Nadu by Dr. Padur Gururaja Bhat.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune