GULBARGA: Lord Mallikarjun, the deity of Chinamalli village in Afzalpur taluk, which is about 55 km from Gulbarga, wears footwear (Chemmavuge) once in two years at a grand function where people of all communities participate.
The annual fair of the deity begins on January 9 of every year and concludes on January 15. Presenting footwear made of bullock skin to the God is the main ritual.
Preparations for the ritual begins one month prior to the fair. Devotees who are willing to donate footwear will personally supervise all things from purchasing the hide to donating the footwear or will entrust somebody to the task.
The seller of the skin has to select the bullock free from diseases and with no injuries for sacrifice. The animal is then skinned. The raw skin is handed over to footwear makers of the god. The skin is kept in the sun for about eight days for drying.
Family members of Swamiraya Mang of Chinamalli whose family takes the lead in making the divine footwear observes fast from January 10 to January 15 till the handing over of the footwear to the temple is complete. There are three family members of Swamiraya Mang and another seven shoe-makers of different villages who engage themselves in making the divine footwear. Temple representatives and leaders of different communities arrive at Swamiraya’s house with musical bands and the footwear is first worshiped in his house. Later, Swamiraya carries the divine footwear on his head in a procession to the temple, which covers a distance of 1 km.
The procession includes Puravantaru (who insert needles in their cheeks as a mark of devotion to the god) and crackers are burst all the way to the temple. After the procession reaches the temple at about 6 am on January 15, the old footwear is removed and new one will be put in its place. The temple authorities honour the footwear-maker with a dress.
Speaking to Express, Swamiraya said the practice is being followed from many centuries and that it was an honour for his family to lead the footwear making of the god.