DHARWAD:At Nuggikeri village near Dharwad, Deepavali is not just about lights and firecrackers. It is also about oxen. The animals are decorated with colourful ribbons, flowers and balloons and even gold and silver ornaments.
The decorated oxen are taken out in a procession through the main roads of the village as part of Deepavali celebrations. The villagers have a belief that they achieve prosperity if they worship their oxen.
The practice of decorating oxen was started 16 years ago, according to locals.
This year, 60 oxen took part in the Deepavali procession. They were decorated with gold and silver chains and ribbons. The villagers have cultivated the practice of buying gold in the name of their oxen for every Diwali. People from surrounding villages visit Nuggikeri too participate in the procession.
Ningappa Pudivakillgaru, a farmer, said he adorned his oxen with traditional necklaces, ribbons and flowers. “The animals help us by working relentlessly in the fields. They deserve such respect”, he said.
For the villagers, oxen are a form of Goddess Lakshmi. On the day of Lakshmi Puja, the villagers don’t make them work.This way of celebrating Deepavali has also reduced the bursting of firecrackers at the village as the it would scare the animals, said another villager.