Reacting strongly to Siddalinga Swami’s statement, pontiff of the Dingalehwara Swami of Balehosur Mutt said, “A pontiff of one of the most prestigious mutts should not have spoken mindlessly”.

Karnataka seers transphobic comment over Lingayat row lands him in controversy
news Controversy Thursday, April 05, 2018 - 19:54

One of the most revered Lingayat seers in Karnataka's Gadag district, known for his powerful oratory skills, has landed in controversy after making a transphobic statement.

Hitting out at Veerashaiva-Lingayat seers for opposing the Karnataka government’s decision to grant minority status to Lingayats, the pontiff of the Tontadarya Mutt in Gadag, Siddalinga Swami said, “Just like the Jogappas and Jogavvas in Savadatti, even they will be cast out”.  

Jogappas and Jogavvas are transgender persons, who are married off to Goddess Yellamma in the temple at Savadatti in Belagavi. Dedicating themselves to Goddess Yellamma, jogappas make a living by begging (joga), singing and dancing.  Jogappas and Jogavvas are considered holy persons and in the Yellamma jatre at Savadatti, thousands flock to get their blessings every year in the month of November.

Siddalinga Swami’s transphobic statement was made at the Jatre Mahotsava in Gadag on Thursday. His speech comes came as a reaction to 150 Veerashaiva-Lingayat seers meeting BJP President Amit Shah in Badami on Tuesday, requesting him not to grant Lingayats the minority religion status. The Karnataka government has sought the Centre’s nod for granting Lingayats a separate religion status.

“They have lost their mind and resorted to such a low level and are campaigning against Siddaramaiah. We do not support one political party. We want the support of all. The jogappas and jogavvas at the Yelamma temple in Savadatti are neither men nor women and are cast out. Just like them even they will be cast out,” the seer said.

The seer was responding to a question asked by the media regarding the seers of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat Mutts requesting Amit Shah not to grant the Lingayat community separate religion status.

The pontiff is one of the most revered seers in Gadag district and was also one of the pontiffs who supported the movement for a separate Lingayat religion.

Reacting strongly to Siddalinga Swami’s statement, pontiff of the Dingalehwara Swami of Balehosur Mutt said, “A pontiff of one of the most prestigious mutts should not have spoken mindlessly”.

“Who are you to question whether we are jogappas and jogavvas? Are you an expert? As a seer of one of the most prestigious mutts and being a jagadguru, you should not have spoken mindlessly. Since you have spoken like a mad person, we will reject your opinion. This land has rejected your opinion. Instead of speaking like this, we feel you should resort to speaking words which will unite the society,” Dingaleshwara Swami said.

Speaking at a convention of around 150 Veerashaiva seers in Badami on Tuesday, Amit Shah hinted that the Centre would not divide Lingayats and Veerashaivas. 

“We will not allow the division of Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities. Do not worry, seers … We will not allow the use of religion for politics. I am not here to do politics. I am here to take your blessings,” Shah had said during an interaction with Veerashaiva seers in Badami on Tuesday.

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