Havan is about the Lambada people who have been a wandering tribe since ages and who, perhaps, originally belonged to Rajasthan. Literally, Havan is the name of a settlement of Lambadas near Kalluru. The novel describes the lives of a few people of this settlement and faithfully recreates the history of the tribe, its characteristic social events and celebrations, songs and dances, beliefs and customs; and their exploitation by landlords and the police. The first part of the novel is narrated by one Basappa who comes to the Thanda (settlement) as a schoolteacher, and the second part is narrated by Loku, Zimri, Hari and Kasanu – members of the tribe.
Two streams of thoughts are prevalent in India about the concept of progress among the hundreds of tribes in the country who are culturally rich but suffer from poverty and lack of education. One thought persuades all the communities to join the mainstream by changing their lifestyle, food, clothing, etc., and getting access to modern education and jobs. The other stream argues that the government should provide these people with adequate facilities whereby they can retain their traditional lifestyle as well as food habits and other cultural practices. The first stream is “interventionist” and the second “non-interventionist”. Neither the social scientists nor the politicians have been able to decide which of the two is “correct”. Both the approaches are not without limitations. Havan is emphatic in convincing us that there are no easy solutions to such dilemmas.
Dr C.N. RAMACHANDRAN (Excerpt from ‘Havana: An Analysis’)
Hiremath’s novel and stories are based in the geographical and cultural surroundings of Bagalkote. The works closely describe the lives of different communities that live here, their struggles, different skills they have, vocations they pursue and their language and customs…Havan documents the unique life pattern of a community and attracts the reader with its lucid narrative providing a perspective on human life . . . Havan is a novel that haunts us for a long time. It compels us to read and reread.
T.P. ASHOK, Critic
. . . if Havana is read as a product of conflicting social and cultural ethos of a marginalised minority nomadic community in the context of the onslaught of market driven forces, the narrative offers exceptional insights into the culturally rich, but economically and politically deprived people and their lives. While the storyline of the novel is mostly on expected lines, the tone of the novel and the texture of the language used offer a unique experience.
I read your novel. You have made a very good attempt. You have very effectively portrayed the picture of a tribal culture of medieval ages that has been jettisoned into the modern times. This situation is equally applicable to the upper class rural masses of today. The turmoil faced by our culture under the influence of modern life has been rightly identified. Congratulations.
Dr GIRADDI GOVINDARAJ, Critic
Though presented as a story, the work stands out for its authentic depiction of a way of life that has, sadly, become a footnote in history. It articulates the quandary that tribes worldwide have faced.
Madhavi S. Mahadevan
Mr Hiremath’s narrative style is well-planned, well-structured and unique. He moves away from Masti’s tradition of storytelling and evolves his own style – a semi-documentary cum autobiographical narrative.
HAVAN that way is a huge metaphor. It ironically mimics and mocks at the Vedic ritual to propitiate gods by offering sacrifices. The novel has an undercurrent of these acts of sacrifices.
Dr Mohan Raj’s attempt at translating this novel is praiseworthy. Not really an easy task. Because the novel has two Kannada dialects beside an almost alien Lambada language.
MALLIKARJUN HIREMATH (b. 1946) retired as principal from First Grade College, Hungund. Sri Hiremath lives in Dharwad and has published a collection of poetry, collections of stories, a novel, a travelogue, a collection of personal essays and three collections of criticism. He is a recipient of the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Honorary Award (2008) among other literary awards. Professor Hiremath is at present the co-editor of Samahita – a Kannada literary journal. He has been appointed the president of Basavaraj Kattimani Trust by the Government of Karnataka and has also been working as an Advisor to the Dharwar Sahitya Sambhrama.
S. MOHANRAJ is a teacher of English with more than forty years of teaching experience. He started his career in Mysore and then moved on to Hyderabad for his research in language teaching and teacher education. After obtaining his research degree he has worked in different regions of the country as a teacher educator, materials developer and an education consultant. Professor Mohanraj has been to several countries to deliver talks, teach on their academic programmes, guide research and for keynote addresses at international conferences. He has published books and research articles in a large number of national and international journals.