Tuesday, April 13, 2021

#AtoZChallenge - Karaga

(This month, each day, except the four Sundays, I will be blogging about interesting features associated with Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge)

This is a very old festival of Bengaluru, probably dating back at least two centuries. 

Celebrated with pomp and enthusiasm on the full moon day in March-April, it commemorates the annual return of Draupadi (one of the central characters in the Indian epic Mahabharata) to visit her warrior sons. 

Though originally it began as a festival of the Tigala community (of gardeners), today it cuts across all sects. 

THE PROCESSION

One of the main elements is the procession in which the priest balances the floral pyramid atop the Karaga (an earthen pot), the contents of which is believed to have divine powers. The centre of the festival is the Dharmaraya Swamy temple at Tigalarapete, one of four shrines in the city dedicated to Draupadi and Pandavas.

Dharmaraya Swamy Temple.
Image credit: Wikipedia

The priest carrying the Karaga.
Image credit: The News Minute 
The carrier, who is selected six months before the festival, is a man who is dressed as a woman symbolising Draupadi. In fact, during those six months of preparation, he disassociates himself from his family and undergoes strict training.

There are Karaga festivals in other towns but the one in Dharmaraya Swamy temple (also knowns as Bangalore Karaga) is the most popular. The procession passes through various parts of the area where large crowds of people worship the Karaga.

COVID SHADOW

Last year, for the first time living memory, the Karaga celebration -- which normally sees hundreds of thousands of people take part -- was curtailed to a few rituals within the temple with just 13 people in attendance.

It's not going to be any different this time, with the country and more specifically Bengaluru seeing a huge spike in the number of people testing positive.

(Tomorrow, we head to one of the most popular and historical gardens in Bengaluru.)


REFERENCES

Bengaluru’s Karaga Festival: Folk Origins and Rituals, by Roshini Muralidhara

31 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    so many events the world over deeply affected by the health crisis... taking the colour out of life... YAM xx

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  2. Fascinating When I first saw the title (before reading your blog post) I thought you were writing about "karakattam", an ancient folk dance of Tamil Nadu. After reading, now I know this is a different karaga.

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  3. Sad that COVID put a damper on this, but it'll bounce back when all this is over :)

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  4. Thanks.This is something new to me.

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    1. Hi KP - Thank you. I believe it's celebrated in Tamil Nadu as well, but in some other format. Not quite sure.

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  5. It's been the same here in Italy. So many festivals were cancelled.
    I think this is one of the hardest things to brave: being unable to celebrate together.
    But I have hopes that next year things will start to be a bit more normal again.
    Take care!

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    1. Hi JazzFeathers - Challenging times. It might take a while, but we will be out of the tunnel before long.

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  6. Such an interesting festival.
    Didn't know of this.
    Great that such cultural events continue even after centuries.

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    1. Hi Anita - Yes, indeed. So much of cultural heritage!

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  7. Tigala community (of gardeners) caught my eye. Will research about them once this challenge is over.

    Covid numbers are on the up in India. Stay safe Pradeep.

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    1. Hi Arti - It's interesting that such a community has kept alive a tradition which now has broken all social barriers.
      O, yes. the progress of Covid is looking really scary. With no controls on movement or gathering of people, we will see very hard days ahead.

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  8. Hi Pradeep - so interesting ... but I certainly need to spend time understanding India, and its states and all the traditions and cultural aspects of the continent. Thanks though for highlighting some of them ... all the best - Hilary

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  9. Six months of training! Wow. That's amazing. I'm sorry the pandemic has curtailed these long held traditions.

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    1. Hi Darla - Yes, quite a strict regimen. Covid has been a dampner in every way!

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  10. I was under the impression that Karaga was a Tamilnadu festival. Your blog was revealing to that extent.Yes, all forms of celebrations are adversely affected by the pandemic.

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    1. Hi Rajeev - I presume there are versions of Karaga in Tamil Nadu, and other parts of Karnataka too.

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  11. Looks like it's a great honor for the carrier to be chosen. 6 months of training sounds very serious too.

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  12. Have not heard of this temple or festival before....quite interesting...enjoyed the read

    https://pagesfromjayashree.blogspot.com/2021/04/k-for-key.html

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  13. Feels so good to hear about my home town. Though I have not participated in this festival, I do know about it.

    Cheers!
    www.balconysunrise.wordpress.com

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    1. Hi Meena - Thank you for stopping by and for the comments. :-)

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  14. This looks and sounds so colourful, hope you get to celebrate it again soon!
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/13/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-k/

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  15. I am particularly glad to have found you. I like your Country very much.

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  16. The temple is an amazing architectural structure. Sad though wise for them to curtail the festivities during a spike in covid. Pleasant memories of past events and plans for the future must sustain all of us for now.
    https://gail-baugniet.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hi Gail - Thanks for stopping by. Hard times, but we will ride it out.

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  17. What an interesting post about a fascinating festival. The floral pyramid is amazing. Hopefully safety will reign for now and celebrations can resume later.




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    1. Hi Deborah - Yes, that's the hope. And we will get there.

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  18. This seems to be a wonderful festival. So unique and different. Love the floral headgear on the carrier's head. Can imagine the kind of training needed to take up the responsible role.
    If only this virus left us alone... :(

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    1. Hi Srivalli - A very unique festival, that's being kept alive with so much gusto today.

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