Hindus Protest Move To End Ritual Of Low Caste Indians Rolling In The Leftover Food Of Higher Caste Indians

Made Snana is a century-old ritual in India where low-caste Hindus roll in the leftover food from the meals of higher caste Brahmins. It is believed to be cure of such things as skin disorders and fulfillment of wishes, but a group of religious leaders have called for a ban on the practice. That has prompted violent attacks from those insisting on the continuation of the ritual.


Hundreds of people roll around in the leftovers of Brahmins meals each year. The leftovers are laid on the ground in plantain leaves for lower caste Hindus. The obvious message of the subordination of the lower caste does not appear to deter those of long to roll in food waste of the higher ranked Hindus.

Last month, anti-Snana activist KS Shivaramu was assaulted by supporters of the ritual. Bharatiya Janata Party official and senior minister VS Acharya – a Brahmin – defends the ritual. Below is a video of a fact-finder being assaulted by devotees of the ritual:

The question is whether the government should ban consensual religious rituals that the majority find offensive. I find this ritual one of the most grotesque displays that I have witnessed in the name of religion. However, free exercise means that, so long as a practice is consensual, adults should be allowed to follow their faiths. There are many demeaning acts that I find offensive in other religions. The question is whether rituals furthering stereotypes or castes can be banned on that basis alone.

Source: BBC

29 thoughts on “Hindus Protest Move To End Ritual Of Low Caste Indians Rolling In The Leftover Food Of Higher Caste Indians

  1. On one hand, yes, they should be allowed to do it as long as it’s consensual and nobody else gets harmed.

    On the other hand, people wonder about the question of if there is intelligent life in the universe, why haven’t they contacted us yet (Fermi’s Paradox).

  2. I would suggest we think carefully before sticking our noses into other peoples’ cultures. It is quite possible that a quick roll then a gathering takes place and a lot of hungry people eat well for a few days.

    I agree with raff but would accept a milk gravy …

  3. We have some guys in our group who say that their parents are self admitted “Holy Rollers” but that they will not admit what it is that they roll in.
    One kid said he witnessed some procedure at church which he described as “Hell on Wheels” but he did not really give too many detains and the rest of the group thought it to be a matter of privacy.

  4. On one hand if people want to do stupid stuff that does’t affect the rights of others, in the name of their religion, they should be allowed to do it. On the other hand, remembering the post from last about upper caste Doctors not wanting to treat an “untouchable” woman who died, perhaps there is a struggle going on about the whole caste system thing in India

  5. So they protest not being able to roll in food, yet they don’t protest being forced into being a lower level person by their religion? Ohhhhhkay !!!!

  6. Gene H. 1, January 10, 2012 at 11:14 am

    … if there is intelligent life in the universe, why haven’t they contacted us yet …
    ========================================
    It is because they are intelligent.

    A paradox is two docs in India each from one of those two castes who haven’t figured out The Cure yet.

  7. Dredd,

    My application of Fermi’s Paradox was entirely rhetorical. Of course any intelligent and sufficiently advanced civilization capable of getting here would realize almost instantly that we are a self-destructive and primitive Type 0 civilization whose primary activity is tribal warfare and thoughtless exploitation. We are unsuitable for membership in any galactic civilization and should be placed under quarantine until either we learn better or kill ourselves off.

  8. I wonder if they would be better off actually eating the food instead of rolling in it. Its not like there is a surplus of food around there.

    I tend to give wide birth to people spiritual beliefs as long as nobody is harmed. I used to belong to a group that performed a ritual were we pretend to eat the flesh and drink the blood of our founder (and some of us believe we are not pretending but actually doing it!) So its hard for me to denigrate others bizarre Ideas.

  9. Frankly
    1, January 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I used to belong to a group that performed a ritual were we pretend to eat the flesh and drink the blood of our founder (and some of us believe we are not pretending but actually doing it!) So its hard for me to denigrate others bizarre Ideas.
    ———————————————————————————————–

    Well put Framkly….

  10. I think the reason it is so difficult for many of us to truly get our heads around this ritual is that we as Americans do not comprehend how a person can believe they are of lessor value because of a herditary caste distinction.

    I understand the reason the Brahmans would find it attractive but how have they kept these people convinced of it.

    These poor people are struggling just to survive and the attitude of the higher castes is “It is as it has always been. Life is harsh for Untouchables”

    Now; along comes someone who wants to take away a ritual that they truly believe will help them. They must feel paniced.

    The saddest thing from here is that in this day and age; there are still people benighted and superstitious and gullible enough to be deceived in this way into living under the conditions they do; believing in their hearts that they deserve every repulsive thing they get for the “crime” of being born to whom they were born.

  11. Gene H. 1, January 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Dredd,

    My application of Fermi’s Paradox was entirely rhetorical. Of course any intelligent and sufficiently advanced civilization capable of getting here would realize almost instantly that we are a self-destructive and primitive Type 0 civilization whose primary activity is tribal warfare and thoughtless exploitation. We are unsuitable for membership in any galactic civilization and should be placed under quarantine until either we learn better or kill ourselves off.
    ======================================
    My sentiments exactly.

    What is difficult to figure is why some of us get it and some don’t.

  12. Angryman sez: “The saddest thing from here is that in this day and age; there are still people benighted and superstitious and gullible enough to be deceived in this way into living under the conditions they do; believing in their hearts that they deserve every repulsive thing they get for the “crime” of being born to whom they were born.”

    *****************************************************

    Angryman, we have terms or art for those folks in this country. We call them “Teabaggers,” “Conservatives” and “Republican rank and file.”

  13. Ottereray that was pretty funny. But teabaggers are people who put their balls on peoples heads. Tea party-ers is the appropriate term, Though you may argue that Tea party people are the type who like to whip out the ol’ sack and give a good rub on their friends bonce.

  14. I’d just like to clarify that this is not an accurate representation of the original purpose for the establishment of the caste system in India. I don’t have much time to get into the details, but in the original caste system, there was class hierarchy. Each of the 4 groups were equal. The primary purpose of the system was efficiency. It worked quite well this way for quite some time. But, this was ruined, as most things are, by the inherent corrosive nature of humans and their egos.

  15. Indian Dude, I have Hindu friends and they do not like the caste system. Now or before. What about the Untouchables? How do you explain them?

  16. OS,

    “I never saw that obvious analogy. So true and just as sad.”

    Indian Dude:

    “I’d just like to clarify that this is not an accurate representation of the original purpose for the establishment of the caste system in India.”

    My intent was not to provide a history of the caste system but to observe the result for these particular people or for their caste as a whole. I appologize if I have offended but you must admit that it seems……….unusual to Americans who are not used to such practices and whose exposure to Hinduism is limited at best.

    “In the original caste system, there was class hierarchy. Each of the 4 groups were equal. The primary purpose of the system was efficiency.”

    Again; no offence intended. Actually my knowledge of Hinduism is fairly limited. I have read quite a bit and spoken to several adherents of various sects and still i don’t believe I can say I am truly conversant. I do have some understanding but of the history; not so much. I am as always interested in whatever light you would care to shine for us. I am sure others would find a bit of a lesson on the history and practice of the religion; caste system, old and new and the transformation from one to the other. (especially as this bears on todays subject)

    “the inherent corrosive nature of humans and their egos.”

    I am sure that i could tell you of these humans as well. They are everywhere and attack all of our cultures. If you wish to give more specifics though; I would be very interested.

    One of the reasons I come here is to learn. I know if you’ve read me before; you might think i just come to get up on my soapbox but in truth; I have a craving for knowledge; especially when that knowledge is related to truth generally not acknowledged or understood.

    So. Great hearing from you. i hope you give us a bit of your time so we can gain a bit of your knowledge.

  17. commoner 1, January 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Indian Dude, I have Hindu friends and they do not like the caste system. Now or before. What about the Untouchables? How do you explain them?
    =======================================
    Here we call them “conspiracy theorists.”

  18. While many religious practices, such as this one, may seem to be primitive and demeaning to the educated and privileged masses one needs to understand that Western thought and reasoning is the polar opposite of many eastern rituals. The caste system and such practices survive because the very people who are affected by it, more often than not, resist change or abolition. Indians believe in Karma – that the conditions of their life as it is, is a consequence of their past actions – and so based on this unwavering belief, religious Indians often refuse and resist change, even those changes that would be beneficial and better their status or living conditions. This resistance is rooted in the concept that God ordained for them to suffer through such hardships in order to balance out whatever karmic debt they may have accumulated in their past lives. To resist their predicament would be, in essence, to go against God. Now, while a large majority of the Indian population is moving away from such karmic belief, a vast number fervently hold onto the concept of Karma. To a westerner, with a different value system, it may seem ridiculous to voluntarily and happily undergo such demeaning rituals, but to an Indian who believes in Karma – it seems a fair price to pay for past transgressions.

  19. Wow I did not expect anyone to respond. (Sorry this ended up being longer than I imagined)

    Angrymanspeaks, no worries about any offense. It would take one more effort than its worth to offend me. I’ll attempt to answer both you and commoner based on my own limited knowledge of the matter.

    I am an American through and through. I was born in NY from parents who immigrated from India. However, I constantly strive to strike a balance between Indian and American cultures. So, I completely understand the Western view on topics such as the Caste System and I can most definitely understand how one would see it in an entirely negative light.

    The Caste System has 4 divisions: Bhramin (Sage/priest), Kshatriya (Warriors/Kings/Protectors), Vaishyas (Tradesmen) and Shudras (Laborers). The purpose for the creation of this system, dating back very far into Indian history, was simple – a division of societal tasks. Primitive man did not have the interdependence required to function on a societal level. So, to increase overall efficiency, tasks were divided into these four groups (Although a separate discussion entirely, one could classify most, if not all, of the occupations today into these same four categories. Its merely an exercise in drawing a box around a group of people and labeling them).

    The four groups played an equally important role in society. Everyone’s voice was heard equally when it came to political matters. As one group could not function without the other, society naturally functioned properly. A son born in a carpenter household would grow up and learn carpentry from his father. Now the problem most people have with this is the lack of choice as we have today (Its only unfortunate that 50% of my high school friends “chose” to drop out of college and do nothing…again different discussion). However, switching groups was not prohibited. It was definitely frowned upon. But a Bhramin with a penchant for war and the mental and physical requirement to partake in it was surely able to “switch over”. This, however, did not happen all too frequently, as it was just more convenient that everyone stuck to what they were a part of for the sake of efficiency.

    But, thats when the inherent corruptive nature of man that I mentioned above began to play a role. Even today, if I get my shoes shined at an airport, something about the entire setup makes me feel bigger and better than the person doing the work. The inherent inferiority/superiority that exists in society works not too well with the inherent inferiority/superiority that exists in man. Predictably, the Khatriyas who ruled the land felt that they were worth more than the street cleaners and farmers. This slowly but inevitably led to oppression of entire castes as a whole. A few generations later this became the norm. Instead of considering everyone their own, Bhramins fell in line with this oppression and began their own mystical transgressions (e.g. Untouchables as referred to by commoner. If a Bhramin touches an untouchable, he has to shower immediately). So begins the rise of the Caste system that is seen today.

    Many great people since then have stood to restore the balance that once existed between the castes. One recent famous person is Mahatma Gandhi. He addressed the problem of untouchability specifically by becoming one with them, despite being a wealthy lawyer.

    The horse-feces seen in this article angers me just as much as it confuses and annoys you. My only plea to you is to not assume that this is a representation, even in part, of Indian culture. I hope what I typed above helps, even if only slightly.

    Fria, Karma is definitely intertwined in this, but only to the extent that it provides false justification for the morons in control and their unfortunate followers. So you’re right that the low caste members in this story will use Karma to subdue any desire to uplift themselves. But this is not a problem of the Karmic value system itself, but of the oppression instilled in the minds of the caste members throughout India.

  20. Indian Dude,

    Thank you for your explanation since it puts things into perspective. I’ve been playing your role to an extent on this blog for awhile. Being among the few outward Jews here (no implication that there are any inward Jews here) it sometimes fall to me to try to explain the cultural religious nuances of Judaism. I am equally unsuited for this role, but have enough knowledge to at least give a hit at explaining things.

    Like most Americans I know little of Indian Culture. However, I have done some reading, including the Mahabharata, Bhagavad Ghita and got some superficial ideas. I do know that many scientists think Indian culture is far older and more sophisticated than it is given credit for being by Western Culture. I appreciate your stopping by and illuminating our discussion, please come again and often.

  21. I think this shows why it is so important to encourage evidence-based thinking. Those who participate in this practice do so because they believe it yields genuine benefits. But not only do many of them have poor or absent evidence (anecdotal evidence seems the dominant norm here), but many find the very notion of demanding evidence offensive. This insulation of religious or cultural practices from evidence is sometime pernicious, and sometimes merely sad..

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