'Naada Habba,' literally

'Naada Habba,' literally

'Naada Habba,' literally

An attractive view of Gangavathara in the temple tank in which the lit up Sri Gokarnanatha temple at Kudroli in Mangalore illuminates. The water from Lord Shiva’s hand rises to a height of 120 feet. DH photo by Chandrahas Kotekar

Untill a few years ago, the word Dasara was synonymous with Mysore. Along with it, the colourful scenes of Palace, the giant elephant carrying golden howdah, jamboo savari and thousands of tourists come to anybody’s mind.

However, of late, if anybody has witnessed ‘Mangalore Dasara,’ perhaps there is every possibility that one may change his or her opinion. The ‘Mangalore Dasara’ is celebrated as a ‘Naada Habba,’ literally! Though the essence of the celebration is the same — worship of the goddess Shakthi in her 9 different avatars — the method of celebration depends on the culture and tradition of each region.

Mangalore, with its unique status as an educational and health hub of the state, celebrates Navrathri too in an unique way and the contribution of Sri Gokarnanatheshwara temple in Kudroli is significant.

Perhaps ‘Mangalore Dasara’ is the only Dasara which is celebrated in a very grand scale with its expenditure running into crores, yet without even a single rupee contribution from the government (unlike Mysore or Madikeri Dasara).

Right from the installation of idols of Sharada and Navadurgas till their immersion in the temple pond on the last day of Navarathri festivities (this year it will be on October 17), the celebrations are simply superb and magnificent.

Though Mangaladevi and a few other temples too celebrate the Navarathri festivities, the celebrations at Sri Kshethra Kudroli has changed the face of celebrations and popularised the concept of Mangalore Dasara.

Nava Durga

Every year, the Gokarnanatheshwara temple decks up much before the festivities start, with clay idols of the ‘Nava Durga’ installed in the temple premises. Thus the goddesses Shailputri (Parvathi), Brahmachaarini (who gives the message of pure love to the world), Chandraghantha (who establishes Justice and wears crescent moon on her head), Kushmaandini (who provides the basic necessities to the world), Skandaputhri (who gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong to the world), Kaatyayini (who persistently battles against the evil and deceitful entities), Kaalaratri (who killed Raktabeeja, a demon), Maha Gauri (who liberate the world of evil forces) and Sidhidaathri (who is a treasure house of Mystic Powers) blesses Mangalore on the nine days from October 8 to 17 at the Kudroli Temple.

Speaking to City Herald, Sri Gokarnanatheshwara Temple Renovation Committee Secretary Harikrishna Bantwal said that the temple is the only temple in the world which installs all the Navadurgas and Sharada idol in one particular place. In fact, any person entering the hall where idols of Navadurgas, Sharada, Adishakthi and Mahaganapathy are installed, he would get a feeling as if he has entered ‘gods and goddesses darbar.’ It is hard to believe that the magnificent larger than life size idols, designed by renowned artistes, with attractive costumes are immersed on the last day.

8-km procession

An important aspect of the Mangalore Dasara is the participation of thousands of public irrespective of caste or creed along the 8 km route. Out of the nearly 60-odd tableus (in as many trucks) on different mythological themes, only 14 tableus belong to the temple and the rest are brought by various groups from different parts of the three coastal districts (Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasargod).

In addition, 1,000 persons carrying 1,000 colourful umbrellas (all from Thrissur in Kerala), several tiger dance and bear dance groups, the Kalladka dolls and the illumination of either side of the road throughout the 8-kms distance of the procession is literally a feast for the eyes of lakhs of public.

Come October 17, and almost all the Mangalore roads will be closed for the traffic. The procession which starts around 4.30 pm would pass through all the prominent roads in the city and culminate at the temple premises on the following day around 6 am.
“Perhaps no Dasara procession would last for more than 12 hours except Mangalore,” opines Harikrishna Bantwal.

Poojary, the soul of temple

Quite interestingly, the entire concept of ‘Mangalore Dasara’ was introduced by former Union minister B Janardhan Poojary way back in 1991 when the renovated temple was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Though Poojary is the whole and soul of the temple and no works in the temple are done without consulting Poojary, neither Poojary nor any of his family members hold any post in the temple administration.
“Poojary had visited several temples throughout India before finalising the present design of the temple,” Harikrishna Bantwal recalls and adds: “The existing temple was constructed in a record time of 13 months without even a single mishap under the able guidance of Poojary.”

Yet another interesting aspect of the temple is that this temple is the only temple in Karnataka where Shiva Linga was installed by social reformer and saint Narayana Guru (in 1912) at a time when caste system ruled the roost. There are a total of 101 temples in India wherein the Shiva Linga was installed by Sri Narayana Guru.

As per Sri Narayan Guru’s advice, idols of Lord Ganapathy, Lord Subramanya, Goddess Annapoorneshwari, Lord Bhairava, the Nava Grihas (Lords of nine planets), Lord Shanishwara and Lord Shri Krishna have been installed at the Kshethra. Besides, the Kshethra also has a 13-foot high idol of Lord Anjaneya and an idol of Brahmashree Narayana Guru. Lord Sri Gokarnanatha (another form of Lord Shiva) is the presiding deity.

The temple has two water sources believed to be shown by Narayana Guru himself from where water is used for all temple complex needs (one is inside the temple and another in the temple premises). Except these two water sources, none of the wells in the vicinity has sweet water (because the temple is located near the Arabian sea).

Today the Kshethra attracts devotees from all religions and communities – One can find burkha worn women, nuns, priests and of course people belonging to other faiths.
In fact, the Kshethra can be rightly called as the centre point of all religions symbolising “Unity in Diversity” – which was envisioned by the great social reformer Brahmas Sri Narayana Guru.

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