Sumprith Acharya, The youngest Nagapatri in Tulunadu


Shivani Kava, Feb 19, 2021, 5:09 PM IST

In an age where people have forgotten their roots and are influenced by western culture, this boy from Kakkunje is following his father’s legacy of Nagadarshana.

Sumprith Acharya, born on February 18, 2006, performs in Nagamandalas and Nagadarshanas alongside his father, Kakkunje Nagananda Vasudeva Acharya.  At 15, he is the youngest Nagapatri in the whole of Tulunadu.

 

When asked how he manages this along with school, Sumprith chuckles and says, ” Its a hobby just like few people love dancing or singing”

Nagaradhane is a ritual mostly seen in coastal Karnataka, snakes are worshipped here. The Nagapatri (priest) presumably inhales the areca flower and is possessed by the snake god, after which he performs holding the areca flowers.

Talking about various types of Nagaradhane, Vasudeva Acharya “It ranges from Astapavitranagamandalotsava, Chaturpavitranagamandalostsava, Dhakkebali, and many more, they go on for about three hours straight and sometimes go up to eight hours. ”

“My parents grew my tresses since childhood. Watching my father perform at Nagamandalas, the respect he received from people is what inspired me,” Sumprith said.

“Earlier I used to give areca flower to my father at Nagamandala and one day Snake god graced me with his possession (Akarshane). When asked about why this happened, we came to know that I was no more limited to lending flowers but had to perform,” he added.

Vasudeva Acharya mentions that this isn’t the first time the snake gods have graced a younger person and that there have been similar instances in the past where an eighteen-year-old performed at Nagadarshana.

Vasudeva Acharya was awarded “Nagasumpreeta” by Dr. Veerendra Heggade in 1990 and that is where Sumprith gets his name.

Like every other kid his age, Sumprith attends school. A ninth-grader, Sumprith goes to a Kannada Medium School in Nittoor, Udupi. As mentioned above, his parents made sure his hair was long since childhood (religious reasons).

Sumprith narrated how he used to be teased at school for having long hair. “Kids would make fun of me, ask me to use girl’s washroom, but that didn’t stop me for I knew I had a legacy to follow,” Sumprith told.

In the initial years, Shiroor seer, late Laxmivarateertha Swamiji lent him areca flower in a Nagamandalotsava.

“Nagadarshana is not an acquired skill, one can only perform by God’s grace,” Vasudeva Acharya claims that Sumprith has so far performed at more than 200 Nagadarshana and at about four Nagamandala in a span of two years.

“Lot has changed now, I receive a lot of respect even when I am not possessed and kids and teachers at school are very co-operative. I don’t miss school, only perform on weekends.”

Suman Acharya, Sumprith’s mother says,”I am really proud to see my boy perform. The only thing I ask of him is to learn how to give and take respect, earn a name in society. ”

 

Apart from this Sumprith is also a Yakshagana artist. He only performs at school events as of yet. He further wishes to learn astrology from his father and yearns to be an Ayurvedic doctor.

When asked why Ayurvedic doctor when he can aim for Allopathy, “There are many people out there who practice western medicine, but I wanna approach a holistic way of medicine and that can be achieved by Ayurveda alone. ” Sumprith said.

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