(ಜೋಗತಿ) tradition is well entrenched in Karnataka. It
constitutes a cult of devotees who are affiliated to the Goddess Yellamma or
Renuka located in Savadatti, a well known shrine in
Jogatis are either women given away in the service of the Goddess or men who are converted in to eunuchs at an young age by emasculation either by a willing family or by force. ‘Jogati’ is the common name assigned to both these categories. They are called ‘Jogamma’ and ‘Jogappa’, whenever a distinction is to be made. Both these categories are given to mendicant life which is full of hardships and travails. They are initiated into the sect after an elaborate ceremony which lasts for five days and involves many rituals. This occasion is also referred to as ‘muttu kaTTuvudu’. The initiation takes place either at the native place of the person or at the temples in Savadatti and Chandragutti. Women who are already Jogatis play a prominent role on this occasion. There are three types of Jogatis depending on the kind of pearls that they have tied. They are ‘garatiya muttu’, ‘sULe muttu’ and jOgati muttu. These pearls are white, red and a combination of the two. The first category of Jogatis is allowed to get in to wedlock. The second group of women are forced to become ‘public women’. Men, widows, eunuchs and prostitutes belong to the third category. The women are given a ‘jaga’ after the initiation ceremony and men are given ‘chauDike’ a musical instrument.
After the initiation, Jogatis take up various lifestyles with many common features. Some of them get married and stay at a place. Others become prostitutes and they or either tied down to a place or lead a mendicant life. However most of them congregate at Savadatti or Chandragurtti during the annual fair. A small group known as ‘mangalArati’ jOgatis, stay at the temple performing some tasks related to the Goddess.
Jogatis carry ‘jaga’ and others carry ‘koDa’. ‘Jaga’ is a rounded basket
contains an icon of the Goddess and other auspicious material. Bangles and
serpent hoods are hung from this basket. Usually these jogatis are found in
The second group carries a ‘koDa’ filled with water. The statue of Yellamma is tied to the neck of the ‘koDa’. It is decorated with peacock feathers. TuntuNi music and songs are performed here as well. The members of the third group carry a musical instrument called ‘cauDike’ and they do not carry Yellamma.
Jogatis wear a white saree, a Cowrie necklace, anklets, bangles and other ornaments. They hold a ‘chouri’ made of bear hair or a ‘jAgaTe’. Their fore heads are smeared with a profusion of turmeric powder and Vermillion. (‘Arishina’ and ‘kunkuma’) Both men and women are dressed alike. Occasionally women wear an yellow cloak.
Even the last rites of a jOgati are quite elaborate and contain a number of rituals.
The dance performed by jogatis is called ‘jOgati kuNita’. The dance is performed with ‘jaga’ or a ‘koDa’ on their heads. They become an integral part of their body and stay in position all through the performance. The dance involves intricate steps and acrobatic movements. These dances are very skillful and energetic. Instruments such as bArike, cauDike and sambALa provide the back ground score. The dancers/dancer stands at the centre and the onlookers stand in a circle around them. They sing songs about the Goddess and occasionally they hold conversation with Yellamma. For the artists, it is more a religious performance than an entertaining activity. They are overpowered by an inner presence. Men, acting as women add a histrionic dimension to the performance.
Jogati tradition is gradually being percieved as a social evil and efforts are made to put an end to it.