Bhootaradhana or Deity worship is very popular in Tulunadu. A ritual called nema or kola is performed for ghosts/gods. Conducting kola/nema has its own race and rules. The face is painted, wrapped in a Siri made of coconut feathers, and danced invoking the deity. The Divine Dancer gives justice to human beings and resolves disputes through the Word of God. Deity worship is the fundamental religious belief of the Tulu race.
Bhootha Aradhane is very common in the coastal towns of Karnataka. Idols representing ‘bhoothas’ are taken out in a procession to the beating of drums and bursting of firecrackers. As the procession ends, the idols are placed on a pedestal.Frantically pacing up and down, he enters into a possessed state and acts as an oracle.
Performance: Bhootada Kola is performed by a trained person who is believed to have temporarily become a god himself. The performer displays an aggressive outlook, dances fiercely and performs multiple rituals. This performer is feared and respected in the community and is believed to give answers to people’s problems on behalf of the god. Drums and music give company to the dancing and pooja rituals. By praying together during Bhootada Kola, the community seeks God’s blessing, prosperity and riddance of various problems the community is challenged with.
Popular Bhootas: Panjurli, Bobbarya, Pilipoota, Kalkuda, Kalburti, Pilichamundi, Koti Chennaya are some of the popular gods (Bhootas) worshipped as part of Bhootada Kola.
Bhootada Kola is said to have some influence from Yakshagana, a more popular and widely performed folk dance in coastal Karnataka. Some of the Bhootada Kola rituals also involve walking on a bed of hot coal.
Where to witness Bhootada Kola?
Bhootada Kola is performed in small local communities in rural parts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. Bhootada Kola is not a tourist event and is not advertised much in mainstream media. However there are no restrictions on who can witness the performances. While staying in Udupi or Mangaluru district you may check with your local host for any possible Bhootada Kola performances coming up.