Culture

'Is Sri Ram Important To South Indians?' — In Bengaluru's Chickpete, A Two-Century-Old Temple Offers The Answer To Those Doubting Tradition

Sharan Setty

Jun 23, 2024, 10:49 AM | Updated 01:02 PM IST

Pujaris perform the Sahasrakalashabhishekam at the Sri Rama Temple in Chickpete, Bengaluru. 

(Special arrangement)
Pujaris perform the Sahasrakalashabhishekam at the Sri Rama Temple in Chickpete, Bengaluru. (Special arrangement)
  • The temple in Chickpete, Bengaluru, has a long-standing tradition that does not just celebrate Sri Rama's values and victories but also narrates the Ramayana in many art forms.
  • Located in the heart of Bengaluru's old market area Chickpete — Sri Kodanda Ramanjaneya Swamy temple — a two-century-old temple dedicated to Sri Rama goes silently unnoticed by many who visit the locality to get their hands on the various fabrics in the market or their favourite Ramu's tikkipuri.

    Those who are aware, make sure to pay their respects and fold their hands as they pass by the temple.

    Apart from the street hawkers and the stores that crowd the streets, there are many historical establishments, including religious ones, which are often not visited by outsiders visiting the city as it has been conveniently replaced by the more recent 'attractions' like Vidhana Soudha, MG Road and Cubbon Park.

    But the history of Bengaluru city begins with this area, and there's a lot one could learn just by exploring the streets of some of the neighbourhoods in the vicinity.

    Located on the BVK Iyengar Road (named after Bindiganavale Venkatappa Krishna Iyer — the first Indian and Kannadiga to hold the office of a deputy commissioner in the erstwhile Mysore state in 1864), the temple has survived for decades and even managed to thrive later on with several traditions being introduced by the devotees and trustees.

    For the last 25 years, Sri Rama has been worshipped in many ways and on many occasions — Vaikunta Ekadashi, and Sri Rama Lakshadeepotsava on the occasion of Hanuma Jayanti.

    There's a long-standing tradition in the temple that does not just celebrate Sri Ram's values and victories but also narrates the Ramayana in many art forms that are little known to the city's residents.

    Kaiwari Thathayya's procession in front of the temple in Chickpete.
    Kaiwari Thathayya's procession in front of the temple in Chickpete.
    Sri Sita Rama Parayanotsavam.
    Sri Sita Rama Parayanotsavam.
    All set of Sahasrakalashabhishekam.
    All set of Sahasrakalashabhishekam.
    Dolotsavam.
    Dolotsavam.
    Sri Sita Lakshmana Hanuma Sameta Kondanda Ramananjaneya Swamy.
    Sri Sita Lakshmana Hanuma Sameta Kondanda Ramananjaneya Swamy.
    Dhaatu's Ramayana Saptaswaram.
    Dhaatu's Ramayana Saptaswaram.
    Preaching the Ramayana to the devotees of 'ooru.
    Preaching the Ramayana to the devotees of 'ooru.
    Sri Sita Rama in their pearl kavacham - coronated for Rama Rajya.
    Sri Sita Rama in their pearl kavacham - coronated for Rama Rajya.
    Front view of the temple located on BVK Iyengar Road.
    Front view of the temple located on BVK Iyengar Road.
    Bhojana being served to devotees.
    Bhojana being served to devotees.
    Devotees pray to Sri Rama.
    Devotees pray to Sri Rama.

    So How Did It All Begin?

    According to the Sri Kodanda Ramanjaneya Swamy temple trust consisting of S Anandakrishna, M K Sai Prabhu, K Balaram and Y N Jayaram, the land for the construction of the temple was given by the Balija community whose receptor happened to be Kaiwara Thathayya.

    In 1840, the murti of Sri Rama was placed in the temple's sanctum sanctorum after appropriate rituals were carried out and mantras were chanted from the Pancharatra Agama.

    More recently, in 1998, the temple underwent renovation and was completed in a couple of years with the support of devotees and trustees. That is when many of the celebrations began.

    On 30 March 2020, Sri Kodanda Ramanjaneya Swamy and goddess Mahalakshmi's murtis were reinstalled. The temple trust also installed Kaiwara Thathayya's idol to commemorate the contributions of the Balija community.

    During the Lakshadeepotsava, 110,000 diyas (locally called deepas) are lit and placed on one side of the street, while the ratha (chariot) is on the other. There are bhajans and kirtans, celebrations are underway for the entire day.

    Ramanavami is celebrated with much grandeur over 11 days. This year was special, considering it is the silver jubilee since the celebrations began first at the temple. Most of the rituals and traditions are aligned with the timeline of events in Ramayana.

    For the first three days, Sahasra Kalashabhisheka was performed to propitiate the birth of Sri Rama. Kalashasas, 1,008, made of bark from wild trees, seed and flower powder is also used. This happened for the first time in the city and according to the trustees, this ensures the wellbeing of people since the kalashas had ayurvedic herbs which are of high medicinal value.

    Just the way Dasharatha invited the whole world to Ayodhya after Sri Rama's birth, the organisers invite the public for bhojana (offering) where more than 7,000 people are fed.

    At the dawn of the new millennium, the first Ramanavami celebrations were organised at the temple. In the same year, many 'firsts' were organised — Unjal Seva during the month of Ashada, Dasara, Vaikunta Ekadashi, Hanuma Jayanti and Lakshadeepotsava. The current year is special since it marks the completion of 25 years of the celebrations.

    The puppet show organised on the occasion also explains how Luv and Kush came over to Ayodhya and sang praises of Sri Rama. This is depicted in the Ramayana Sapthaswara, where 3,000 verses in each raga of the 72 melakarta ragas are sung (Luv and Kush sang 24,000 slokas of Ramayana in the 72 melakarta ragas).

    After Rama was coronated, Bharata witnessed Rama Rajya — a kalyanotsava carried out before the pattabhisheka depicts this. With that, the devotees hope and pray that Bharata witnesses a Rama Rajya once again with the blessings of Sri Rama.

    During the coronation of Sri Rama, a kavacham made of pearls was used to ornate the deity.

    Next time you are in 'ooru', do visit some of these old temples which are tucked away in the narrow streets of the city.

    And of course, the Sri Kodanda Ramanjaneya Swamy temple being one among them makes it all the more special.

    Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.


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