ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Peacocks of Kerehalli

Do we have the intellectual resources to comprehend the transformations that are upon us, especially in our villages? A snapshot of a village in Karnataka illustrates the complex and contradictory processes of resistance and engagement in the prodigious development of capitalism in India.

Names of persons and places have been altered as appropriate in this article, which represents some initial observations. Many thanks to Ramesh Bairy, Aya Ikegame, Mary John and A R Vasavi for their encouragement.

Among the sights and sounds of robins, treepies, crows, drongos, owls and tits that throng the bushes and trees of a small village called Kerehalli in Chitradurga district is the sudden and wondrous sight as well as the inimitable cacophony of peacocks. Unlike the other feathered denizens of the place, the peacocks are hyper-visible (and audible) outsiders, and have made this village of 5,000 humans their home, sharing in rich field pickings.

This small village is also the location of an important Lingayat matha (to which the branch of Sadar Lingayats owes its loyalty). The peacocks, no doubt, are there thanks to the matha, which has, like many other Lingayat counterparts, a small menagerie of rabbits and deer, ducks and geese. The matha’s larger-than-life presence in Kerehalli is underlined by the steady stream of devotees who reach this village via an immaculate road leading off the national highway. A large domed white granite structure that looms above the village streets is another sign of the matha’s long commitment to education, housing the large boy’s hostel, the high school, as well as computer centre, court house, and library. In addition Kerehalli boasts of a degree college, a pre-university college, and a more modest girls’ hostel, to make it an impressive hub of educational activity.

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