Mangaluru Dasara: Of The People, By The People, For The People

Mangaluru Dasara: Of The People, By The People, For The People

by M Raghuram - Oct 18, 2018 06:08 PM +05:30 IST
Mangaluru Dasara: Of The People, By The People, For The PeopleThe Gokarnanatha Temple. 
  • How the Mangaluru Dasara has come to be as popular as it is without any royal or state patronage.

Nothing can beat the grandeur and splendour of the royal Mysuru Dasara, thanks to the three powerful elements that come together in it – the blessings of Goddess Chamundeshwari, the charisma of the royal family and the government. But 240 kilometres away, towards the coast of the port city of Mangaluru, the Dasara celebrations are now undoubtedly a close second in splendour and in footfalls in the state if not in the country.

Here, Dasara celebrations have stemmed from the common man’s life.

The Kudroli Gokarnanatha temple, which had a humble beginning in 1912, is now known the world over for its Dasara festivities. It is also the only place in the country that consecrates idols of all navadurgas in nine different forms. In Mysuru, it is Chamundeshwari and in Kolkata, Durga.

The temple has been nurtured to give the common man his place of worship. The Billava community leader Sahukar Koragappa, was pained by the denial of entry into temples to members of his community. He felt that his community needed its own place of worship. In 1912, he took the lead towards this end and invited philosopher and social reformer Sree Narayana Guru of Kerala to Mangalore to consecrate the Shiva Lingam, which he brought from Kerala. The kshetra (temple) was named 'Gokarnanatha’ by Sree Narayana Guru himself.

The kshetra started the tradition of consecrating the navadurgas for Dasara in 1991. The navadurgas in their different avataras (incarnations) as mentioned in the puranas are installed here and that have become a unique feature of the Kudroli temple. Mahagowri, Mahakali, Kathyayini, Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmandini, Skandamatha and Siddhi Dhatri are the navadurga avataras. This is, perhaps, the only temple in the country that offer pujas to all the nine forms of Durgas.

The shrines of <i>navadurgas</i>.
The shrines of navadurgas.

On the last day of the Navratri-Vijayadashami (19 October this year) a grand procession will be carried out which includes a 5 km long line-up of tableaux (over 75 of them) coming from all over the state and some from outside. More than 30 troupes of folk dancers from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh will also take part in the procession. All navadurga idols – mounted on a truck with a dazzling display of lights are the highlights. The all-night affair keeps the Mangalore city awake until dawn.

It is estimated that in 2018 Dasara, there will be more than 10 lakh people who would witness the procession and another five lakh would have visited the Kudroli Gokarnanatha temple during the Navratri festivities. This is equivalent to the crowds drawn by the Mysuru Dasara.

How does the city manage the funding of such a big fare? When asked, B Janardhana Poojary, former Rajya Sabha member and a senior Billava leader told Swarajya that it is all funded by the devotees – some wealthy and some not as much. The idea here is to give a platform to the common people to be a part of a large socio-religious theatre where they feel empowered, inclusive. They take part in this festival with a sense of belonging.

Sairam, descendent of Sahukar Koragappa and a top temple functionary said, “that the temple is already visited by 10 lakh people and more were expected. On all days during Navratri we have anna prasadam (mass feeding), at least 2.5 lakh people partake in the mass feeding during the nine days of festivities.”

Kannadiga Dasara In Beautiful Goa

Five towns in Goa and Panaji city will regale in the spirit of Dasara, thanks to the various Kannada sanghas spearheaded by the Goa Kannada Samaj in Panaji. The Kannadigas were preparing to give the cosmopolitan Goa a taste of authentic Mysurian Dasara – the cuisine, pujas and the works.

The spirit of Dasara has dashed all the anti-Kannadiga feelings which arose from the issues of Mahadayi river water sharing and Biana beach evictions. “Kannadigas are the most culturally vibrant and most friendly settlers in Goa, they have won the hearts of Goans in every sphere of life in this state,” says Calangute MLA Michael Lobo.

“The Goa Kannada Sangh has been functioning in Panaji for the last 30 years and every year we had brought many facets of culture of Karnataka in to Goa, one of them was the Dasara celebration. Goa being cosmopolitan in nature loves the traditional Dasara celebrations, glimpses from the fabled Dasara of Mysuru, puppetry, yakshagana, theatrical plays, dance forms and even cuisine. Through our cultural exchanges we have brought Goan people closer to Kannadigas,” Goa Kannada Sangh president Arun Kumar said.

“In addition, we will hold traditional aarti for Kannada Bhuvaneshwari and exchange banni leaves specially harvested from different places in Goa,” he said.

There are Kannada sanghas in Madgaon, Vasco, Mapusa, Ponda and Bicholim that are also promoting harmony between the Goans and Kannadigas. “Many devotees from Mangaluru, Udupi, Honnavar, Kumta and Karwar visit Goa during the Dasara and take part in the celebrations in these towns. The devotees of Shantadurga, Mangeshi and Mahalasa Narayani temples from the coastal districts of Karnataka make it a point to interact with Goa Kannadigas,” said Suresh Nayak, a Kannada enthusiast of Calangute who had migrated to Goa from Mangaluru 20 years ago.

Slice Of Mysuru In Mangaluru

In another intercultural exchange during Dasara, the settlers from Mysuru in Mangaluru also hold Golu display (dolls crib) in typical Mysurian style. Over 1,000 dolls from Mysuru, depicting characters from mythology and representing social themes are displayed in a tastefully decorated crib.

Mangaluru Dasara: Of The People, By The People, For The People

An elder of the settlers group ‘Nammavaru’ Vipra Koota, M S Gururaj, told Swarajya that the dollhouse showing Amba Vilas Palace and the fabled Jamboo Safari are the favourites.

Raghuram hails from coastal Karnataka and writes on communal politics.

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