There was a carnival-like atmosphere in Udupi as citizen group Sahabalve held a harmony walk and convention in the coastal town, aimed at rekindling interfaith dialogue amid recent communal tensions. Over a thousand people walked from Hutatma Chowk in Ajjarkad in Udupi to the Christian School (Mission Compound) on Saturday afternoon. The walk was led by kambala runners or the traditional buffalo racers of coastal Karnataka. It was attended by hundreds of people from all faiths while there were tableaus of Swami Vivekananda and BR Ambedkar, among others. It also included pilivesha dancers or tiger dancers, a traditional art form in coastal Karnataka and people playing the dafli, a folk instrument.
The culmination of the walk was a harmony convention that took place in the Christian School campus in Udupi. The chief guests of the convention were social activist Yogendra Yadav and former IAS officer Sasikanth Senthil. Speaking at the event, Yogendra Yadav said, "About sedition and who is patriotic and who is not, who is national and who is anti-national. Some people keep giving these certificates to others. Those who bring people of this country together are the patriots, those who try to divide them on religion etc are anti national."
The event also included a music programme by MD Pallavi, a Kannada singer and activist. She sang the state song Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate (victory to the daughter of mother India, victory to Karnataka maathe) to start off the event. She also sang a renditition of Kurigalu Saar Kurigalu.
The convention comes months after a controversy over wearing the hijab in classrooms which began in a government pre-university college in Udupi. The Karnataka High Court disallowed the wearing of the hijab in the classroom in March. Following this, Muslim traders were evicted and excluded from temple fairs in coastal Karnataka including in the popular temple fairs of the Kapu Mariamma temple and Mulki Bappanadu temple.
It's a carnivale out there in Udupi today... People of all faiths out here, celebrating diversity and coexistence. Here's a sight I never thought I'd see a march of Muslim women flanked by Udupi's famed Pilivesa. pic.twitter.com/CdUnle0DR3â€” G Vishnu (@geevishnu) May 14, 2022