Bengaluru Karaga (Kannada ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ಕರಗ) is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in the heart of Bengaluru. Bengaluru Karaga is primarily a well-known tradition of Thigala community in southern Karnataka. The Karaga festival is generally led by the men of the community. There is a legend which gives them this privilege. Thigalas believe that in the last part of the Mahabharatha, when the Pandavas were shown a glimpse of hell, one last Asura (Demon) called Tripurasura was still alive.
At this time, Draupadi, the Pandava's wife, took the form of Shakthi devi. She created a huge army of soldiers called the Veerakumaras. After defeating the Asura, the soldiers asked Shakthi Devi to stay back with them. Though she had to go back, she promised them that she would come to stay with them every year during the first full moon of the first month of the Hindu calendar.
Thigalas believe that they belong to this community of soldiers.
- 1 History
- 2 Karaga Shaktyotsava – Bengaluru's oldest & most important festival
- 3 Karaga – The Festival of Thigala Clan
- 3.1 The purpose of Karaga
- 3.2 Karaga Carrier
- 3.3 Veerakumaras – their devotion with Goddess Draupadi
- 3.4 Dedicated Clique
- 3.5 Dwajarohana – raising of the flag
- 3.6 Aarathi Utsava – festival of lights
- 3.7 The pathchai Karagam
- 3.8 Karaga fervour at midnight – the culmination of devotion
- 3.9 Potharaja Gavoo
- 3.10 Vasanthothsava
- 4 The Role of Karthas
- 5 Historic events regarding the Karaga Shakthyotsava
- 6 Thigalas and Bengaluru Geography
- 7 The Karaga and The Dargah
- 8 Group Cohesion
- 9 Bengaluru Karaga Route
- 10 Mark of Impression
- 11 Social Status of the Vahni Kula Kshatriyas Community
- 12 Security personnel
- 13 Gallery
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 External links
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The roots of Karaga go back over five centuries, and to the Thigala community which has kept the festival alive over the centuries. Mystery shrouds the origin of the Thigalas. By one account, the Thigalas sprung form the loins of the sage Angirasa whose progeny were the founders of most of the dynasties of South India.
Karaga Shaktyotsava – Bengaluru's oldest & most important festival
This is the festival of Adhishakthi Draupadi. The literary meaning of Karaga is expanded and explained as Ka + Ra + Ga.
|ಕನ್ನಡ ಅಕ್ಷರದಲ್ಲಿ||ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ||Character||In English|
|ಕ||ಕೈಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಟ್ಟದೆ||KA||Without touching in hand|
|ರ||ರುಂಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಧರಿಸಿ||RA||Bearing on the head|
|ಗ||ಗತಿಸುವುದು / ಚಲಿಸುವುದು||GA||Moving around|
Participants in the Karaga bear the deity on their head without touching by hand and moving around. It is believed that the goddess Adishakthi Draupadi will come down from heaven to earth and stay for three days with the community. In this connection the community will perform Vratha (religious practice) for 11 days in a year from the day of Chaitra Shrasthi.
The Thigalas believe that Draupadi Shakti (power) brims over during the Karaga festival and the Karaga carrier dressing as a female is symbolic of Draupadi. It is a high ritualistic significance for Thigalas and they celebrate Draupadi, as they believe she is an ideal woman.
The Karaga itself is a tall floral pyramid that is balanced on the carrier's head. The Karaga leaves the temple around midnight. The goddess is brought for the darshan of the devotees from the temple on the head of the Karaga-bearer.
Karaga is a unique celebration that brings people of different religions together.
Karaga commences with the flag-hoisting ceremony on the night of Saptami, the seventh day of the bright half of Chaitra, the first month in the Hindu calendar. It is on this day that the Kumbha or the holy pot, called the "Hasi Karaga," is made from the sediment of the Sampangi Tank. Later in the night, the Karaga is installed in a mantapa on the banks of the tank.
Traditionally, the festivities begin with the recitation of mantras (incantations) and the hoisting of a ceremonial flag on the banks of Bengaluru’s Sampangi tank. On the seventh day Hasi-Karaga (tender Karaga) is brought from a salt water pond near the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple. Legend has it that Karaga carrier while in deep meditation in the waist deep water in the pond suddenly feels a weight on his head. Holding the object like he would a baby, he goes to the Sampangi tank. Then the object is brought back to the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple and placed next to the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple and placed next to the idol of Dharma. At this point it becomes the Karaga.
The Karaga is expertly balanced on the carrier's head. The carrier, in his temporary avatar as Draupadi, goes to the houses of the veerakumaras where their families perform pooja to the Karaga. The carrier is practically in a trance even as he dances along with the veerakumaras (who are carrying their swords). By the time the procession returns to the temple it is dawn.
Karaga – The Festival of Thigala Clan
Scintillating nadaswaram played every year during the time of Karaga festival.
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Every year, the Thigalas celebrate a festival called Karaga. The story of the Karaga is also rooted in the Mahabharata.Draupadi is the community deity of the Vahnikula Kshytriyas. The Karaga is an annual celebration of her as the ideal woman and of woman-power (Mother Goddess). The Karaga is a pot on which is a floral cone. This cone is taken in procession from the historic Dharmaraya Swamy Temple in the Thigalara-peytey area of the old City, through the night.
Throughout the night there is worship offered to the Karaga along its route. At the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple location, people continuously sing devotional hymns, leading the people in their group for singing and chanting. A large number of people wait at the temple for the Karaga’s return.
Karaga commences with the all important flag raising ceremony called Dwajarohana. The Yellow flag is hoisted inside the temple courtyard where the flag is hoisted on a bamboo flag pole and on the first day the veerakumaras and the priest have Janivara(thread worn as a band over the left shoulder) and sacred kankana(sacred thread) tied on their wrist, only then can they do sevae(serve) to her.
Prayers are offered by the priest, veerakumaras and chaakrigars. Five hereditary clan families are involved in the tradition. All the rituals are steeped in secrecy. From 2nd to 6th days, in the evenings aarthi takes place at the Cubbon Park shakti peeta, and then at other 8 water sources. On the 6th day ladies pray to Draupadi Devi with an elaborate aarati.
The 7th day is hase Karaga when symbolically the goddess is readied for her marriage. She emerges from the kere (tank), readied as a woman fully decked up like a bride, and by another secret ritual she carries the kalasha(pot). The veerakumaras pay their obeisance to her and escort her to the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple.
The 8th day is Pongal sevae done by the wives of the veerae daras to the goddess. On the pournami day the marriage of the goddess and the utsav murtis are taken in a procession. The 10th day is shanthi pooje to Potha raja, also a protector and the brother in law to the Pandavas. The 11th day is vasanth utsava, all rituals pertaining to the festival will end the Karaga flag will be unfurled.
The Karaga returns to the Temple in the morning. Much dancing and singing happens at this point. Worship is offered at the temple. Many rituals are performed and the festival is brought to an end. Throughout the period of the festival, cooked rice mixed with various spices are offered to people free of cost.
The purpose of Karaga
Draupadi is a form of shakti that Dharmaraya worshipped. It was for peace that this Karaga is meant for. Draupadi devi is not installed in the temple here at the time of Karaga. She is put in as a chakrastapane, so that the devout get her darshan (view). Otherwise she is represented by a charka peeta. This representation of shakti is followed only by Thigalas. For over 800 years, the festival has been celebrated in the temple and never once has the goddess and chariot not left on their annual journey.
A unique feature of the Karaga festival is that a man, dressed as a woman, carries the Karaga on his head. While a few say that it is a celebration of womanhood and femininity, a section claims that it is the result of Draupadi's curse. It is seen as an insult to Yudhishthira, who let the Kauravas humiliate Draupadi in court.
In a gender-bending role that entails inter alia 11 days of asceticism, a man is chosen from the Acharya Pujari sect of the Tigala community, for it requires the physical strength of a male to carry the Karaga.
Karaga priest performs austerities since six months and he wears his wife’s mangala sutra (Holy knot), who gets it back by a marriage ceremony on the 10th day. She will not be seeing her husband from the time of Vijayadashami who will reside in the temple till the Karaga is over. So when the Karaga procession stops in front of her house, she, unlike the other devotees cannot come out to be blessed. On the lines of Vijayadashami celebration of Dussera or Dasara, so also on the final day it’s triumph of good that the Karaga celebrates.
Karaga enters the Sanctam Sanctorum in the temple and after a while amidst the chant of the name of Lord Govinda the vedas and mantras are recited and the music reaches the limits of the sky. At this moment the Karaga comes out of the Sanctam Sanctorum carrying the Karaga on his head. Aarathi is performed to the Karaga at both the Shri Ganesha and Goddess Muthyalamma temple.
The karaga poojari for the year 2016 was Shri C. LAKSHMISHA. It was the 3rd time he was wing the karaga poojari. Other notable Karaga poojaris of recent time have been Poojari Shiva Shankar,Poojari Adishesha, Poojari Abhimanyu,Poojari A. Gnanendra, Poojari Lokesh.
Veerakumaras – their devotion with Goddess Draupadi
During Karaga festival hundreds of bare chested young men clad in only dhoti and turban participate in a procession they also carry swords with them. Such young men are called Veerkumaras (or veerakumararu) valiant young men. These people also wear red cloth called vastru or vastra to show their devotion to goddess Draupadi. However, only people belonging to the Thigala community can become veerkumaras. These young men strike the sword on their bare chests. If blood oozes out then they are considered an indication of the veerakumara’s failure to adhere to the ritualistic formalities required for the occasion and are eventually disqualified from the formal procedures.
The veerakumaras perform Alagusevai intoning the words Alalala-Di-Di-Di-Dhik-Dhee-Dhik-Dhee and striking their swords to their chests. Veerakumars will observe fasting till the festival gets over.
Another person to watch out for is the Karanga. Karanga carries earthen pots on his head and immerses the same in the Sampangni Tank. It is said that as the person walks from the temple holding the Karaga on his head he is surrounded by the sword men. In case the Karaga slips from his head or he loses his balance and falls the swords have a menacing significance because by tradition the carrier would be killed by these sword fighters. Over centuries this tradition has continued and it is dominant till today.
After the flag hoisting, a band of veerakumaras, are initiated into strict penance. Incidentally, the veerakumaras are from the Thigala families who have made a Harake(vow) to Draupadi that they would send a veerakumara to the Karaga if their difficulties are solved.
Gowdas are the announcers of Karaga, while Ganacharyas, Chakrigararu are the ordained sects in the vahnikula kshytriyas to carry the tradition of conducting the Karaga.
Chakridararu are those who perform the various pooja activities at the time of Karaga. These include the Ghante poojaris (The priest who tolls the bell), who are the gurus and carry out the temple rituals, the kith of the Karaga priest, kith from the clan of potharaja.Banka Dasayya(Begule whistlers),Kolgaru/Kolkararu(Message criers),Gana Chari(Chief of the community). These five families have a Kula Purohita(Clan priest) who is a Brahmin performs hindu ritual called punya homa as per the shastras (sacred texts).
The pothraja family of the Thigala community will be the flag bearer and bring the flag to the temple in the procession. Overall management and supervision is done by ganacharyas. All these functionaries sharing a common attribute are supervised by the gowdas who ensure smooth functioning. Everything is very well balanced and perfectly timed as it was done some centuries ago.
Dwajarohana – raising of the flag
The vratha starts with Dwajarohana on Chaitra Shrasthi day. The kula Gowda (Community chief) of the community, Dasaiah, Kolkara(Sevak) and Veera Kumaras bring the temple Karthas like Ganachaari, Gante Poojari, Karaga Poojari and Pootharaja Poojari (different Priest) to the temple.
The Kula Purohitha (Chief priest) performs Shuddi Kaarya (punyaha) of the temple followed by Utsava of Arjuna and Draupadi along with the Dwaja. After that the devotees of Jaraganahalli offer bamboo pole having 48 shoots to the temple as a tradition. The Kula Purohitha perform abhisheka, shanthi pooja and Dwajaarohana along with Karaga poojari in the Brahmi Muhurtha.
After the Dwajarohana temple Karthas Chaakaridharas, Veerakumaras gets in to Deeksha by wearing Kankana and secred thread by this Vratha commences.
Thirtha Snana (Holi bath) on the eve of Shakthi Aradhane and to receive Adishakthi to this earth it is customary to make eternal Shuddi, Shanthi, For this purpose Shuddi Karya and Thirtha Snana will take place in 8 directions in the city from the next day of dwajarohana. The Thirtha Snana will take place along with Thrishula, Bhandhara Chati, Kalasha, Ghante, Dhamaruga, Manthradanda and Baku, Karaga Pujari, Gante Pujari, Chatri Chamara, Nadaswara and Banka Dasaiah. It is believed that the Potharaja Pujari with Thrishula, the sound of Banka, the Power of Bandhara Chati and Kalasha will clear all the evil forces on the earth.
After reaching the specific place the suddhi karya take place. The Karaga poojari will take holy bath and perform pooja, by praying Goddess to keep away the evil forces from the holy place. The similar performances will be conducted on all the 8 days as follows.
|Direction||Respective Worshiping Places||Location|
|Northeast||Shakthipeeta||Hasikaragadakana i.e. Sampangitank|
|East||Yellamma Temple||Samapangirama Nagar|
|Southeast||Muneshwara Temple||Sudhamanagar (Hoovina Thota)|
|Southwest||Gavipura Guttahalli||Ganesha School Compound near Sri Krishnarajendra Market, beside Kempegowdakote at Victoria Hospital.|
|Northwest||Annamma Temple||Kalayanapuri near Darmamabudikere at Majestic.|
By this Ashtadikbandhana is performed to prevent devil and evil forces for this holy place.
Aarathi Utsava – festival of lights
On the sixty day of Karaga Festival, i.e. on Yekadashi Aarathi Seva will be performed. The women and children play a large role on sixth day called Aarathi Utsava. The idol of Pothraja and a Trishula is carried along in the procession. Carrying the Trishul during the procession marks the entire area as sacred. Pooja’s are performed to the Trishul by various members during the procession.
On this day ladies of the community prepare the aarathi with rice floor and decorates it with flower sticks with Jasmine & Kankambar flower are fixed to rice & Jaggery cake and placed in a vessel which decorated with flowers called as yelkunga. Inside the vessel a lamp is placed.
This is then carried on the heads by the womenfolk to the temple to perform pooja. Also on this day youth trained at Phyilmann Annayappa Garadi and Kunjahna Garadi (Gym's) bring along their weaponry and hold an exhibition of martial arts like Kathi Varasi, Kolu Varasi and Benki Chandina Pradharshana and other such ancient warfare arts at the temple.
After assembling in the temple, the aarathis will go for a "Pradakshana" of the temple at 3 am on the 7th day. This procession will be led by the ‘Garadi Children’ showing their heroic talents like, ‘Kolu Varase’, ‘Kathi Varase’, ‘Kombu Varase’, ’Musti Yuddha’.
By evening 6 pm four batches of seva karthas will move in four directions and receive pooja from the community. Each group will have ‘Kontha’(Trishula). ‘Gante’, ‘Panju’ and “Nadaswara’. After performing aarathi pooja at home, they will bring the aarathees to the temple.
The aarathi utsava takes its route starting from Dharmaraya Swamy Temple marches towards Kumbarapete along with Nagatherapete main road then finally ends where inside the temple. After this procession, the Maha Mangalarathi will be held in the temple by around 6 am
On the 7th day, i.e. on ‘Thrayodashi’, after ‘Theertha Snana’ the Durga Poojari will conduct the ‘Dheeksha Pradhana Yagna’. The Kula Gowdas and Ganachari introduce the interested youths of community who seek ‘Dheeksha’. The Durga Poojari perform the Yagna(the God of Fire) with mantra patina. People who take dheeksha will be taught in ‘Alagu Seva’ and the principles to be followed. On the same day at 7:30 pm the main chariot ‘Kalashas’ are purified through shudhi and shanthi karya by Kula Purohitha. After this, the ‘Kankana’, ‘Mudupu’ and ‘Pavithra Dara’ (the sacred thread) tied to the north east corner of the chariot, followed by placement of ‘Kalasas’, ’Chatra’, and ’Dwaja’ on the top of chariot. After this the decoration of chariot will take place which will be ready by Chaitra Poornima Day.
After kalasa prathisthapana, the Karaga poojari along with Ganachari, Gante Poojari, Potharaju Poojari, Chakridara and Veerakumaras offer Bali or Gaavoo Anna (Turmeric Cooked Rice) to Astadikpalakas in the 8th directions to help and co-operate in Karaga Shakthyothsava. The process will be held for further two days.
The pathchai Karagam
The very important of the Karaga Shakthyotsava Vratha will take place from here onwards. The Karthas of the Vthsava will offer the Prayer and Manthrapatana to absorb power from goddess Adhishakthi at Karagada Kunte from here they will proceed to Shakthipeetha, which is the processes of devatha kainkarya’s that are very sacred and secret not made known to others.
The Shakthi Peeta situated in the Sampangi tank bed area. This peeta withstands the power and also attract the devotees during the time of Karaga shakthi aradhana moves towards the temple during this period the veerakumaras will resume the kankana deekshapower from kula purohitha and get blessings from karthas like Kulagowda, bankadasayya. The Potharaja Poojari offer Gandha to all veerakumaras andr Gaotees and Kula Gouda offer garlands to all karthas, Chakridaras, Veerakumara and devotees.
The Karpura(Camphor) burnt in the kana(sacred place) as a mark of sacrifice to deity since draupadi born from fire. In the specific time the power swings around this area. Then the veerakumaras start chanting Govinda Govinda and offer Alagu sevai Sevai in which they hit themselves forcibly on the chest with their swords by chanting Dhick-De, Dhick-De mantra. At the same time the Banka (long buga) will make a big sound. All these activities make the power waves to move forcibly around this sacred place. By this time the Karthas perform prayer and Manthrapatana on Adhishakthi Drowpathidevi. The poojari will enter the shakthipeeta to join with karthas. The forced waves of power make the priest to resume divine power.
This is the powerful and wonderful sight to see the Karaga holding Manthradanda and Karaga in the left and Baku in the right hand. The Poojari is covered by Jasmine flowered Ragade (Flower Bunch covered from forehead to complete back portion feet). The priest appearance in the light of panju(the big cotton hand stick burnt with castor oil) will inspire the devotees to fall in deep Bhakthi. It is an experience that, even the meteriolists (Nasthika) will also become Asthika and respect the power of the shakthi.
Soon after this the karthas will make the way to start sanchara from Shakthipeeta to Temple thought shakthishala (Yelu Suthinakote) in the Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike premises. It is a fact that, the Adhishakthi is known as a combined power of Srushti (Creation), Sthithi (Maintain) and Laya (Destruction) while moving we will recognise these observations.
The karthas will give timely advice to the veerakumaras to make the way clear. They will follow the Hasi Karaga by chanting Govinda-Govinda, when make her way slow immediately they will start Alaguseva by chanting Hall-Hallow Dick-De mantra.
When shakthi movement raises with force in the crowd of devotees the karthas will start Natya mantras and make the priest to follow the steps to the Ganta-Nadha to bring her force to normal. After taking pooja at Yelusuthina Kote, the Hasi Karaga will put a break for a while and sit ina "Veera Mandi" position, Veerakumaras will offer Alaguseva and devotees pray lord Krishna and by chanting Govinda-Govinda nama in all the three places and it appears the Alaguseva of the Veerakumaras and prayers of the devotees is to please the shakthi movement to move towards temple.
The Hasi Karaga will be placed at the centre of Garbha Gruha(Sanctrum). This is the important and sacred Uthsava and believed that Adhishakthi Draupadi live in this holy place in the form of Hasi Karaga.
The Chaithra shudda chaturdashi after regular Poojaadi Kainkaryas the ladies of the community assemble and make Pongal Prasada to offer Adhishakthi Draupadi Devi. In the midnight 1 o'clock the Uthsavakarthas assemble in the temple Gantepoojari and his family members start Bharatha Purana Kathana apprising the powers of Draupadi Devi. After purana Kathana during Arundodhaya the Pongal seva pooja will be offered to Adhishakthi Draupadi Devi. This Uthsava will be dominated by ladies. They believe that goddess Draupadi will be pleased for their seva and bless them and their family.
On the seventh day of festival Pache Karagun takes place near the Sampangi Tank which is one of the oldest tanks in Bengaluru. The whole place is decorated with flowers, lights and leaves. The devotees wait for hours together to get a glimpse of the Goddess as the procession takes place
Karaga fervour at midnight – the culmination of devotion
The auspicious day of Karaga Shakthiotsava falls on the Chaitra Poornima a full moon day in the month of Chaitra. This is the ninth day of the festival and starts off with the holy bath. The fast is maintained during the entire day to pay obeisance to the Goddess Draupadi.
The members of the chariot decorators (Therukattuva maneyavaru) decorate main seven Ankhana chariot with colourful cloths and create a doom on the top of the chariot below the kalasha and the Veera Hanuman photo will be affixed in the front of the doom and the chariot will get ready to move before the Karaga Shakthyotsava sanchara starts.
The same day morning Uthsava Karthas and Veerakumaras assemble at 10 am near the temple and they join the priest to the Karagada Kunte with all chathra. Chamara, Dwaja and Nadaswara, the procession will reach the Karagada Kunte. After the pooja and prasada they come back to temple. While coming back the sevakarthas, Veerakumaras and devotees bring the green leaf branches of Honge Tree and make Mantapa in the temple. After reaching temple, the regular pooja and regular Kainkaryas will be performed.
The priest conduce pooja of Bangles and wears the Bangle(Bale Thodisuvudu) and prepare for the Vivaha Shasthra as a bride, the Kula purohitha will take him to the sacred place and perform Homa. The karthas will go to priest’s house and bring mangala dravyas and Mangalya with Bageena. It will be taken to Garbha griha, The kula purohitha will conduct sumanthra vivaha to lord Arjuna and goddess Draupadi Devi. By this the Karaga kartha priest is empowered to bear the Adhishakthi super divine power on him in the form of KARAGA.
The priest and karathas perform the shanthikainkarya to the eternal forces around the temple area by offering Bali and proceed to the Karagada kunte at 10 pm The Karagada Karthas will offer The Karand chant manthras and prepare prerequisites for the Karaga Shakthyotsava. The Devatha Kainkaryas are sacred and secret; it is observed and practised on the basis of ancient Thanthra-Manthra vidhana of Shaktha Pantha. From there they will reach Shakthi Peeta and fire the karpuras and offer their prayer to kuladevatha and come back to the Temple through Shakthi sthala (Yelu Shuthinakote) after performing pooja and pradhakshina.
Under the protection of veerakumaras and the elders, amidst the sounds of music as played formally in the temple, the Karaga goes on a Pradarshana (procession) around the temple. The procession is taken around the Elu Suthina Kottai and then proceeds to Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple.
The main karthas of Karaga Shakthyothsava like main priest, Kulapurohitha Ganachari and Gantepoojari start preparatory work at Garbhagruha (Santrum). The veerakumaras and kulagowda go to the Ganachari’s house to receive Gandha and Garlands. They will come back to the temple and assemble around the chariot.
The Idols of the Lord Arjuna and Goddess Draupadi Devi are brought and placed in the main chariot. During this time the main karthas who are in the Garbhagruha (Sanctrum) engaged in avishkaras (admiring the super divine power) of Adhishakthi by chanting manthras and adequating Thanthras to give divine power to the Karaga shakthi and the same is being decorated by Jasmine flowers, chathra, chamara, Shanku-Chakra. The shakti will occupy on the head of the main priest at the time when the moon reaches 90°(Ninety degree) to the earth.
The idols of Pancha Pandavas move from the temple towards the yathra route, then the main chariot starts moving from the temple towards east and will be parked at Halasurgate Anjaneya Swamy Temple circle followed by Muthyalammadevi Ratha. Soon after this the Banka Dasayya will floute Bhanka nadha and devotees and veerkumaras starts chanting Govinda-Govinda and karapura starts burning. The temple area filled with extraordinary spiritual power. Thousands and thousands of eyes awaiting the Karagashakthi to come out from the Garbhagruha. The enlightened Karaga Shakthi comes out like a thunder light from Garbharuha.
The shakthi will take a pradhakshina of the peetashala of the temple and move out of the main temple and take darshana and aarathi of shakthi ganapathy, Muthyalammadevi and movies towards chariot. After taking two rounds of the said chariot, in the third round the karthas will make gantanadha and bring shakthi shanchalana on natya. After this the Karaga receive Arathi of Anjaneya Temple then moves to Nagarapradhakshina. On the way receives poja in temples and from the devotees in the old Banaglore fort area touching all the corners of the city like Kote Anjaneyaswamy Temple near Sri Krishnarajendra Market, then Basavanna Temple trough Cottonpet from there as a traditional practice Karaga shakthi will take pooja at Masthansaheb Dharga as a mark of universal brotherhood. The sufees of the Dharga receive Karagashakthi with respect and honour with gandha churnas.
Karaga shakthi move to the Nimishamba Temple from their to Annamma Temple at Majestic area and back to the Yelahanka gate Anjaneya Temple thought Kilari Road and pass through Avenue Road where the number of god and goddesses Rathas are parked. After taking poojas Karagashakthi move to Thigalarpet through Kumbarpet and receive poojas in all the Veerakumaras and Chakridaras, as well as houses of Karthas.
The Karaga shakthi reaches the temple in early morning and give darshana to thousands of devotees waiting near the temple. The gante poojari with his gantanaadha and prayers makes shakthi returns to the temple. The seva karthas of Bengaluru irrespective of community are being blessed. The karga karthas will follow the priest to the Garbhagruha and chant the shanty manthras to bring down the Karaga shakthi and peeta. After Maha mangalaarthi, the veera-kumaras, Chakridaras, Karthas will make pradhakshina of the temple and go back to their respective houses.
The Karaga poojari after Maha Mangaalarathi sit in the Prangana of the temple. The devotees receive lemon prasada till evening and the same time morning to evening prasada will be distributed to devotees by "DharamarayaSwamy Rathotsava Kaladali Nadeyuva Anna Chatra Nidhi" Trust. Worship is offered at the temple. Many rituals are performed and the festival is brought to an end.
In Thigala's dialect this Karaga is called as Poo Karagu and locally it's said to be as Theru Karaga.
The tenth day midnight after the pooja in the temple the poojaris and veerakumaras will take procession of Lord Arjuna, Draupadi Ratha and Potharaja towards Shakthistala (Yelusuthinakote) Banaglore Mahanagara Palike premises. The shanty pooja and Bharatha Purana kathana, and the purana of potharaja recited by Gantepoojari and his family members. The purana kathana will go up to morning 3 o'clock later, the uthsava returns to the temple. The karthas along with the Bankadasayya, Chakridas team will go to potharaja poojari house for pooja, soon after the pooja, the Gante Poojari will chant manthras and make avishkara of lord potharaja on the poojaris.
The potharaja poojaries with the divine power rush towards the crowd, the gantepoojari control them by chanting manthras and raising Bandarachati power and bring them to the temple. To bring down the power of potharaja the powerful mighty god among pandavas. The Gantepoojari will chant manthras and offers a Black Goat to the Potharaja Poojaris. The poojaris bite the goat and suck the blood; by this they will come back to normal status. This is the shanthithanthra according to ancient shakthism which is in practice since its inception. The potharaja poojaries are coming from particular family who are the priest of grama devatha muthyalamma temple. The Mangalarathi will be performed after Gavoo shanthi, by this the activity of the day comes to an end.
The eleventh day is the last day of the vratha. The karthas and veerakumaras will assemble near temple under the leadership of Gowda, Gnachar, Chakridaras at 4 pm As a mark of successful completion of the Karaga shakthyotsava function the vasanthotsava will be celebrated. The ancient games of aiming target, some time naked eyes, some time closed eyes. The ladies will bring turmeric water and fill the drums kept for the purpose. The youngsters throw the turmeric water on the opposite party to disturb their object beating. Totally the vasantha vuthsava ends with joy and happiness.
The same day night 10:30 pm the uthsava of lord Arjuna and Draupadi will be conducted, and the Dwaaja Awarohana(Descending of the flag which as raised on first day of the Karagashakthyotsava) will be held. Pooja will be conducted to dwajadanda (flag poll) and Mahamangalarathi will be performed. The veerakumaras will unite their kankana and sacred threads and surrender the same to the temple. At the same time all the karthas and veerakumars under the leadership of the Kulagowda and Gantepoojari, take chakridaras and leave them to their respective houses respectfully. With this the eleven days Vrathacharana of colourful and flower full "Karagashakthyotsava" will come to an end. The other pooja and uthsavas of the temple will continue throughout the year.
The Role of Karthas
The Karagashakthyotsava festival will be managed by Vyavasthpana Samithi (Temple Managing Committee). The managing committee will call the joint meeting with Temple Karthas including Kulagowda, Ganachari and Chakridaras for discussion and make necessary arrangements for the Karagashakthyotasava well in advance.
In the ‘Karaga’ festival, the role of five families is very significant i.e., the ‘Ganachari’,’Gante Poojari’,’Potharaja’,’Bhanka Dasaiah’ and the ‘Kolukara (messenger)’.
The required financial arrangements and material supply will be dealt by committee. The seva activities and Vrathacharane will be conducted by the karthas-kulagowdas, Gantepoojari and so-on. Entire religious and temple activities will be maintained under the guidelines of kulagowda and so on, whereas maintenance of the temple decoration, inviting guests, arranging cultural programme etc., will be managed by the temple managing committee. Whereas the ganachari coming from particular family the rights of the ganachari continues as an ancestral rights, he commands the religious and Karaga shakthyotsava ritual activities.
Similarly the kula gowda will command the entire Karaga shakthyotsava activities and community religious activities. The gantepoojari will play an important role in Karaga shakthyotsava, he who give Deeksha to Veerakumaras and give Avishkaras to Karagada and ari and potharaja poojari and he also plays an important in descending the deeksha power when individual gets his life end. The potharaja poojari who happen to be muthyalamma poojari is also place an important role in arranging pooja’s outside the temple and also give service as a potharaja.
The bhankadasayya is also an important person who creates awareness among the devotees and give timely alarming to the devotees at the time of pooja Karaga sanchara. The kolkara(messenger) who is also plays an important role in service in the temple activities and he works as a messenger between temple authorities and the devotees to send the messages at the time of festival, marriages and even for ceremonies.
Lastly the very significance role of Karaga kartha who is the priest centre attraction of community who has to undergo series of ritual practices and prepare himself as a servant between god and devotees.
The above personalities are having their own merits their combined efforts bringing success from the inception of Karaga shakthyotsava, this is the unmatching social setup finding in this community, it is very race in the society i.e., how the Karaga shakthyotsava succeeds in the modern and scientific age.
Historic events regarding the Karaga Shakthyotsava
- The Karaga Shakthyathsava has been celebrated for centuries. Different dynasties like ‘Marathas’, ‘Mysore Wodeyars’, ‘Britishers’ and the ‘Union Government’ have ruled Bengaluru. It is evident that, many temples are destroyed and ruined for many reasons, but Shri. Dharmaraya Swamy Temple is sustained over the centuries. A few incidents are remarkable to quote.
- During Maratas period, some mantravadies (Black Magicians) wanted to test the thantras of the Karaga and wanted to stop the movements of Karaga. At this the Karaga started raising to the height and amazingly it sat on the coconut tree. The Karaga poojari punched his lap with the knife and sprinkled the blood and prayed god. The Veerakumaras offered alugu seva. Soon after this, the Karaga shakthi came down and took its place on poojaries head and started moving on its regular sanchara.
- The Maharaja of Myosre wanted to test the Alugu seva of Veerakumaras in the year 1811 A.D., the swords were broken into pieces and Immudi Krishnarajendra Wodeyar became the devotee to the temple and issued an order to take the temple to his administrative control and huge lands in and around the Bengaluru marked in the name of the temple for the development of temple and community.
- At the time of British rulers, the top person of the Administration came to temple to stop the Karaga festival in the midnight since it disturbs the peaceful sleep of the public, when he reaches the temple on his chariot, he lost his eyesight and horses could not pull the chariot, he realised the power of the Religious beliefs of the people and recognised his mistake and confessed to the Karaga shakthi with the help of his servants. After this he had his eyesight back and recommended to the Union Govt., to extend the privilege of keeping swords by Thigala Community for their religious purpose. The exemption is given from weapon prevention act of India the same benefit the Thigalas are utilising even today. At the same time, the order was passed by the rulers not to restrict the Karaga Shakthyotsava and uthsavas of the Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple. This privilege is in use even today by the temple authorities.
- Another incident towards the communal harmony. During the sulthans ruling, a person called Haju Masthan was supposed to be right hand to the sulthana, and is sincere follower of Islamic religion, had a dream in which he was standing near Karaga and saw that the two hasthas(hands) were right in front of the Karaga blessings. With this he realised that, all the religions are one and developed good relationships with community. After the death, the Karaga visits Masthan sabs daraga and receives pooja.
- Another incident is that, Marata Kshathriyas (Pategars) youth came to temple with swords and offered Aluguseva thinking that they are also kshathriyas, soon after his both the youths got their chest sheered off and blood started coming out and then they realised their limits and confessed to the Karagashakthi. Karaga karthas pasted bhandara on their chest, the wound was vanished, from then onwards their family members became the devotees of the temple and their family youths are undergoing vratha charana along with community veerakumaras even today.
Thigalas and Bengaluru Geography
The Karaga, which cuts across religious lines, has been linked with the Tigala community since the 16th Century.
The central part of Bengaluru’s Thigala population is called Thigalara peytey (proncounced “pay-tay“; Thigala's market). Based on their heritage story, they built temples to Draupadi and Dharmaraya (another name for Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata). The most important of these temples are in Thigalara-peytey.
It is learnt that there are forty lakhs people living throughout the state it is noted Kolar, Bengaluru, Tumkur districts are thickly populated urban and rural districts. Basically this community depends upon agricultural and horticultural activities.
The Karaga and The Dargah
One of the distinctive features of the Karaga is the participation in this festival by people of all creeds and communities. An eloquent testimony to the secular character of this festival is seen just before sunrise when the Karaga procession halts before the Dargah-e-Shariff of Hazrat Takwal Mastan Shah, the 18th century Muslim saint. The Dargah of Tawakkal Mastan bears testimony to our syncretic cultural legacy. THE DARGAH of Tawakkal Mastan in Cottonpet stands testimony to our syncretic cultural legacy, a valued tradition that has been seriously threatened in recent times. In an interesting development, the two religious systems came together at one point in time, and the annual Karaga of Dharmaraya Swamy visiting Tawakkal Dargah became a tradition. It is considered a sacrilege for the person carrying the Karaga to drop it. The story goes that during Tawakkal's time, one particular year, the person carrying the Karaga stopped at Tawakkal Mastan Dargah and asked for his blessings so that Karaga would not fall off his head. Tawakkal blessed him and asked him to utter "Din, Din".
The tradition continues to this day and the Karaga-carriers visit the dargah three days prior to the Karaga puja begins. He visits the dargah on the day of the Karaga as well, with the Karaga on his head. When he arrives, the fateha, ritual is performed, after which the Karaga-carrier goes round the dargah thrice. He walks the first round, goes around on his knees on the second, and dances around the dargah on the third. After this, the caretaker of the dargah and the Karaga carrier exchange lemons.
Hindus and Muslims enthusiastically participate in this ritual. This interaction among them is very important because people of both religions have traditionally occupied that part of the city for generations. Friendly co-existence is important when people of different cultures share geographic space closely. Such rituals bring about social interactions that are symbolic – here the interactions are an expression of the shared interest that both cultures have. It is in both their interests to maintain friendship. The religious rituals symbolises communal amity.
One of the distinctive features of Karaga is the participation in this festival by people of all creeds and communities. The Karaga is a representative of the deity in the temple. The icon in the temple is fixed permanently. By taking a "copy" of the icon in the streets, the deity is brought to the people at their own doorstep. When people see the deity, the deity also sees them. This is considered to be a form of blessing from the divine.
The cooked rice, given free to anyone who wants some, is sponsored by various local merchants and other families. These acts of public service promote cooperation among people. They also support the Karaga festival by taking care of the people attending so they don’t have to leave the festival to go home because they feel hungry..
Bengaluru Karaga Route
The movement of the Karaga in the streets is important in another way too. It brings people of the Thigala community (and others as well) into a common place to participate in the festival in different ways. Such practices are common in cultures around the world. This is important to build camaraderie within the group (in this case, Thigala’s), and among groups (in this case, among Hindus and Muslims).
Taking a deity in procession is an old custom in India among many religions. The route that the deity takes is made sacred by its movement on that route. The sacred route is physically temporary it happens only while the procession is going on. Once the procession is over, people are expected to remember that the route is sacred. This is a way of internalising a sacred mental map.
The Karaga route begins at the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple at thigalarapete and starts its journey through the old city starting from Ram Seva Mandir – Cubbonpete, Venugopala Swamy Temple – Nagrathpete, Byreshwara Temple & Makkala Basavanna – Siddana Line, Channarayaswamy Temple – Ganigarapete, Chamundeshwari Temple – Chickpete Main road, Eshwara Temple – Avenue Road, Kote Anjeneya – Doddapete, then journing across K.R Market for visiting across Murahari Swamy Mata – Ranasingpete.
From here manju Karaga snakes through Beerdevaragudi in Akkipete main road later moves towards Aralepete on the way visiting to Muslim shrine (dargah) and pays obeisance at the Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan dargah in Balepete, Balegaradi – Balepete, Annamma Devi Temple near Subdar Chatram Road (Majestic area) and while returning Karaga also visits Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple in Kilari Road including Anjeneya temple in Yelahanka Gate then Tuppada Anjaneyagudi at Avenue Road and receives ppoje at Chowdeswari temple then moving to Kumbarpete main road, Gollarapete. Later in Thigalarapete Karaga receives pooja in the houses of Veerakumaras, Gummata(Vegetable Market) near cubbonpete, then Karaga will be received by Kulapurohita house at Sunnakalpet and it will return to Dharmaraya Swamy Temple.
Mark of Impression
The trademark festival of Bengaluru Karaga now had been found a place on the postal covers. The Department of Posts has released a cover that carries the emblem of the Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple. This special postal cover was released by Governor Rameshwar Thakur.
Social Status of the Vahni Kula Kshatriyas Community
It is learnt that there are forty lakhs people living throughput the state it is noted Kolar, Bangalore, Tumkur districts are thickly populated urban and rural districts. Basically this community depends upon agricultural and horticultural activities.
Majority of the population are rich in life style of cultural and social behaviors though the community is educationally more backward, the social systems of village management within the community is well maintained from decades i.e., the village social cultural and religious activities are managed by local leaders called Yajamana, Gowda, Ganachari and on. That is how the social destructives are controlled by this local leaders. They will give more respect to women in society.
There were strong feelings with in the community i.e., sub sects like moola mathsta and Namadhara. Namadhara happens to be followers of Ramanujacharya at the time of Vysnava movement in the year 11th and 12th century and other group is called Moola mathastha (Mulludhare). The people who are not attracted towards the Vyshnavism they remained and continuing same old practices as ancient Shyvision of south India. There is no much difference in the groups, other than rituals and ceremonies through the life style marriages, Kesha Mundana ceremonies and other religious functions of these groups within the community same in both the group and jointly celebrates Shakthi aradhana and Karaga Shakthyotsava. Every taluk and in every districts there is no difference of opinions between the groups they work together and make mighty strength in succeeding in the Karaga utsava.
There were strong ill feelings among the group within the community in respect of marital relationship. This was because of misunderstandings miscoating of defective families this is led to the many bright youngsters to remain unmarried and many to opt other unmatching like partners and received in their lives no a days the social and educational development in the society creating awareness with in the community to forego the unscientific believes in this regard and started to select and perform marriages irrespective of the groups within the community which is welcoming future of the development of the community.
Every year Bengaluru city Police will deploy and place a heavy bandobast around the temple and in particular along the route of the Karaga procession. Police officials say that nearly 1,000 to 1,500 personnel will deputied on duty for enhanced security.
Work by horticulturist Thigalas.
- "Woman power at Karaga". Bangalore Mirror. April 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- K. Laxmana – Author & Publisher of Sri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple, Hand Book
- C. K. Meena (29 December 2002). "Bangalore". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 June 2009.
- City to feel Karaga fervour tonight
- Official Bengaluru Karaga Stamp and Postal Cover | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
- "Postal cover on 'Karaga' released". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2 August 2008.
Media related to Bengaluru Karaga at Wikimedia Commons