BANGALORE: Chikpet is all geared up to celebrate Karaga, the annual temple festival of Dharmaraya Swamy temple. The Karaga procession will start out from the temple premises on Friday midnight .
The Karaga festival is celebrated by the Tigala community, who are also known as the Vanikula Kshatriyas. Tigalas have been long time devotees of Goddess Draupadi and also believe that Draupadi is an ideal woman.
Speaking about the history of the Karaga festival, K Lakshman, a member of the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple Committee said, “There are no written records as to when the celebration of the Karaga began. It is believed that this festival was celebrated during the era when Gangas ruled us. We ensure that the same rituals are followed every year.”
This year, Karaga will be carried by A Gnanendra, who has carried Karaga for the past four years.
The highlight of the festival is that the carrier of Karaga is dressed in the feminine attire as basically the festival is to celebrate womenhood. Lakshman added, “There are only five families in the city who can carry the Karaga. We select the members based on their physical fitness. During this period of nine days, the carrier has to turn vegetarian and follow the strict rules which are set by our ancestors like ensuring cleanliness in the surroundings and also having food on plantain leaf.”
Thousands of people irrespective of their religion, caste and creed take part in the festival which takes place on a full moon day in the first month of the new year according to the Lunar Calendar (Chaitra Masa).
Chalakari Narayana, treasurer and member of the Narayana Swamy temple said, “We believe that celebrating this festival can ward off evil. The festival is also celebrated for the well-being of the people in the city which is the sole purpose of the carrier’s existence on earth.”
During this period, the Karaga carrier and devotees visit temples in the erstwhile fort area bordered by Anjaneyaswamy temples in Ulsoor, Kengeri, Yelahanka and Kanakapura gate. The procession covers a 42-kilometre-radius in the city within eight hours. Prayers are also offered at Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Dargah in Balepet to mark peace and harmony among the citizens. The procession also pays visit to Annamma Devi temple near Subedar Chatram Road, Beeradevaragudi in Akkipet, Chowdeshwari Temple in Avenue Road and other temples in the city.