The ritual pot filled with water and adorned with decorations several feet high is carried by the priest. The dancers perform various acrobatic feats while following the procession accompanied by a number of musical instruments like 'Thavil', "Nadaswaram", "Muni", "Udukkai", "Pambai", etc.
Karaga festivities of Tamil Nadu
The Karagam dance is very popular in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh (Garagalu) and Karnataka (Karaga). It is an eye catching item with the performer carrying decorated and vertically piled vessels on their heads and donning colourful costumes dancing in a lively manner to the tune of Nadhaswaram and the rhythm of Thavil. It is popular in villages during temple festivals.
Karaga festivities of Karnataka
The karaga itself is a mud pot, on which stands a tall floral pyramid that is balanced on the carrier's head. The contents of the pot have remained a secret down the centuries. The carrier's arrival is heralded by hundreds of bare-chested, dhoti-clad, turbaned Veerakumaras bearing unsheathed swords. Tradition has it that this frenzied procession of Veerakumaras accompanying the karaga carrier can execute him should he stumble and let the karaga fall. This festival that takes place in central part of the city is called as Bangalore Karaga.
The Karaga Carrier
The Karaga carrier is taken from his home by the members of the Dharmaraya Temple. The carrier's wife takes on the role of a widow. Her mangala sutra (necklace symbolizing marriage) and bangles are worn by her husband and she is not to see him or the Karaga until the conclusion of the festival. The Tigalas, who hold Draupadi as their principal deity, believe that Draupadi Shakti (power) brims over during the Karaga festival and the Karaga carrier dressing as a female is symbolic of Draupadi. The Karaga is expertly balanced on the carrier's head. The carrier is practically in a trance even as he dances along with the Veerakumaras. The Veerakumaras hit the swords on their bare chests, saying "dik-di dik-di".
The rituals have their origin in the Mahabharata, particularly in the vastrakshepa (stripping) of Draupadi, the exile of the Pandavas and the death of Draupadi's sons at the hands of Ashwathama. After all these trials and tribulations, she emerged as a symbol of strong and ideal womanhood.
Bangalore Karaga Route Map
The Karaga route beings at the Dharmarayaswamy temple and snakes through the old city via Cubbonpet, Ganigarapet, Avenue Road, Dodderpet, Akkipet, Balepet, Kilari Road, Nagarthpet and sorroundnig areas. The karaga carrier, now in his temporary avatar as Draupadi, goes to the houses of the Veerakumaras where their families perform pooja to the karaga. By the time procession returns to the temple it is dawn.
Karaga in Ramagondanahalli
Karaga festival in Ramagondanahalli is celebrated in the month of March (on Holi Festival). In the name of the Draupadi and Dharmaraya Swamy, the procession starts usually at midnight and visits all the houses of Ramagondanahalli, Varthur Kodi.There will be 2 kinds of Karaga, first called as Hasi KARAGA,two days prior to the main Hoovina KARAGA.Chariot will be pulled by villagers, a round throughout the village. Ramagondanahalli karaga is very famous festival in East region of Bangalore. The festival would be started 11 days before a full moon day (March in Ramagondanahalli) every year by pulling chariot and ends with grand Karaga festival. The Karaga festival is traditional community function of Thigala community who largely resides ramagondanahalli and they are performing this festival since from 100 years. Sri Dharmarayaswamy temple situated in ramagondanahalli town attracts thousands of devotees on the occasion of Karaga Festival. ramagondanahalli Karaga attracts about 25000 to 30000 people from nearby villages and towns. people of ramagondanahalli invite all of their friends and relatives for this festival and whole streets and houses of ramagondanahalli would be decorated with serial lights, Rangoli would be drawn in front of all the houses of Ramagondanahalli and kodi Village to welcome Karaga to their houses with lot of shraddha and bhakti. People offer prayers to the goddess Draupadi on the day karaga.
Karaga in Madikeri
Karaga festival in Madikeri starts as part of Madikeri Dasara or Navarathri. Four Mariyamma temples of the city start one karaga each. These four karagas are called as the shakthi devathas of the town. These karagas visit almost every home of Madikeri and take pooja. Here, Karaga festival is a 10-day festival, which starts a day after Mahalaya Amavasye and concludes on the day of Vijayadashami. The dance of these karagas is great to watch.
On the day of Vijayadashami, the karagas start after midnight and head towards Banni Mantap. After breaking the Banni, these karagas return to the temples.