I'd been on a trip to the western ghats, last November. It was fantastic. Two professors, two PhD. scholars, and plenty of students, the seniors and us, the juniors.
I enjoyed every minute of it. An eye-opener, it surely was.
It was a three-day trip. The first day at Kollur and Kodachadri. Day 2 had us visiting Murdeshwara and Gokarna. YaNa and Sirsi was paid a visit on the third day.
Most are temple towns. Temples were just glanced at. Beaches were what we looked forward at. And we did have a blast.
While on the journey to Gokarna, i saw quite a number of soligas. I came face-to-face with them, later. I never imagined that i would get an opportunity to observe them, from close quarters.
When i visited the temple at Gokarna, i saw soliga women stand outside the temple selling posies of wildflowers. These bright flowers caught my fancy.
I visited the temple, early morning on the final day. A young soliga girl approached with bunches of flowers. I bought a small bouquet from her. It was to be offered to the deity, but i retained it. It was to accompany me for some time. I wanted to be reminded of them whenever i set my eyes on those flowers. While stepping inside, i observed that soligas were denied entry into the temple.
I came out after a few minutes. The soligas retracted to a small group whenever they saw those belonging to the 'superior class'. An aged soliga women placed flowers near the staircase that led into the temple. When asked the reason behind her not going inside the temple, she smile. A smiled. A smile which portrayed helplessness and sorrow. It was indeed a disturbing sight.
After all the angst and discussions that has gone in this direction, trying to uplift the weakened sections of the society. The divide is yet to be bridged. Hope it happens in the coming years.