By P.T. Bopanna
Is the Congress government in Karnataka interfering in the ‘religious practices’ of the Kodava community (Coorgs) by bringing in limits on the number of liquor bottles a family can store in the house.
It is a well-known fact that the Coorgs, who are ancestor worshippers, propitiate their ancestors by offering liquor on important social occasions, including birth, death, and festivals.
In the name of controlling the sale of liquor by homestay owners in Coorg, the state excise department has ordered that residents can now stock only 2.3 litres of liquor, compared to 4.6 litres allowed earlier.
The Karnataka government is well within its right to ban the serving of liquor by homestay owners to their guests which was allowed in the past to promote tourism.
The excise department has now banned the sale of liquor and homemade wine to the guests by homestay owners. This is a welcome decision because it was not advisable to serve alcohol to guests in a home setting where children also stayed. In fact, the serving of alcohol to guests had reduced the status of the man of the house to that of a ‘bearer’.
According to a report, it was found that homemade wines sold in some places in Coorg had high sulphate content due to excess fermentation. Consequently, this concoction gave good ‘kick’.
EDITORIAL: The Karnataka government should immediately withdraw the order reducing the amount of liquor a family can store in their houses. There is nothing wrong in fixing a reasonable limit.
From time immemorial, the Coorgs have consumed liquor for various reasons – religious, climatic and customary. It is the customary right of the Coorgs to serve liquor and the law also provides for safeguarding the customary rights of individuals.
The government should not only ban the sale of alcohol by homestay owners to their guests, but the ban should be enforced strictly to prevent immoral activities that have surfaced in homestays in the recent years.
For the uninitiated, the Coorgs observe a remembrance day called ‘Karanang Kodupa’ where ancestors are worshipped by offering them liquor and other eatables, including non-vegetarian.
There is an annual festival called ‘Kail Murta’, dedicated to the worship of arms, where imbibing liquor is the main ritual.
While the Congress had faulted the BJP government for banning the sale and consumption of beef in Maharashtra which affect the Muslims, the Congress-run government in Karnataka should desist from interfering in the religious practices of the Coorgs.