Bhootha Kola, a complex system of beliefs and rituals mixed with dances and music, is a religious system practiced in the coastal districts of Karnataka
. The word 'Bhootha' is a Sanskrit parole signifying the elements of nature such as the earth, water, fire, air and space. According to the beliefs, this religious ritual has been in practice for over 2000 years.
It is believed that the Bhootha treat the humans as their foster children and act as a bridge between human beings and God. In return, they expect devotion and customary offerings. The kola comprises a spectacular dance by an impersonator blessed by the spirit wearing colourful costumes, delivering messages of the spirit, curing diseases and settling village disputes. The costume is a gown of palm leaf and a halo like structure called ‘ani’ made of palm leaf and adorned with flowers and ornaments. The dancer also wears different types of ornaments, depending on the spirit. The ceremony ends with the distribution of prasad in the form of boolyas.