Bangalore: Caste- No bar, religion- No bar, language- No bar. This is how one of the oldest traditional festivals of Bangalore, ‘Karaga’ is celebrated. All eyes on Sri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple. It is this temple in S P Road, where the Karaga festival is celebrated from centuries together. This year the Karaga will be held on midnight of April 18. It is a well-known tradition of Tigala community in southern parts of the state.
How it all started?
We have all read in our epics like Mahabhartha and Ramayana that in order to relieve the people from the clutches of the evils, god used to take one or the other avatar. Likewise, Draupadi, wife of Pandavas took the avatar of Adishakthi and formed a team of soldiers called Veerakumaras and demolished the demon Asura.
Veerakumaras insisted Draupadi to stay back. But she managed to convince the Veerakumaras and said that she will come back every year during the first full moon day of the first month of the Hindu calendar. This group of Veerakumaras is believed to be the present Tigalas. Later year by year Karaga became a sense of celebration of India’s rich culture and tradition.
What does Karaga stand for?
‘Ka’ means without touching by hand. ‘Ra’ means carrying it on the head. ‘Ga’ means coming around carrying it.
What is in the Karaga? Who will carry it? How they decide that?
The Karaga is made of flowers in the shape of a pyramid. In the top of the pyramid, Vishnu resides followed by Brahma in the bottom. In the middle part, ‘Mathrugana’ and ‘Rudra’ (Shiva) this will be balanced on the head of the carrier who will be selected by the senior heads of the Tigala community. The physical and mental strength of will be given prominence during the selection. This year the Karaga will be carried by C M Lokesh. The people see the Karaga carrier, who will be dressed as female as Draupadi. The Karaga goes around the city covering all temples. One special thing is that the Karaga will also visit Tawakkal masjid at Cottonpet. The Karaga will even visit all the houses of all Veerakumaras, who believe that Adishakthi Draupadi has come to their homes truly in the guise of Karaga carrier.
How the Karaga festival commence?
It commences with a yellow colour flag-hoist inside the temple court yard, termed as ‘Dwajarohana’. This year the flag was hoisted on April 10. After the flag hoist, the Karaga along with the Veerakumars, ‘gante’, ‘kalasha’, ‘vadya’, ‘trishoola’, ‘panchavarna dwaja’-symbol of Pandavas will go around eight direction for eight days and the Karaga carrier will take bath each day in one water body in one direction. The Karaga is believed to have powers which will completely eliminate the evil forces in the route by which it goes.
Also the history says that the one who sees the Karaga will be blessed and relieved of the sins following him from past seven generations.
“People will pour in lakhs together on the day of Karaga. It is celebrated as a ‘Nada Habba’. There is an increase in population of people other than Hindu. This year we have made special arrangements. We have put up about 200 flex banners for enough publicity. This is celebrated as a grand festival. People get dressed in a new dress and participate in the celebration. All religions and castes come together. For example, the Balijigas look after the chariot pulling, the Kumbaras look after the ‘anna chatra’ and the Jains distribute prasada and water” said K Lakshmana, dharmadarshi, Sri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple.