When the City comes alive

There is magic and mystic during Ugadi in the City, which comes during spring, says Michael Patrao

Bevu Bella thindu sukhavagi iri', which means eat need and jaggery and enjoy life. This is the underlying sentiment of Ugadi which prevails in the traditional parts of Bangalore like Basavanagudi and Malleswaram, Chamarajpet and the surrounding areas.

In market areas like Malleswaram, Gandhi Bazaar, Srirampuram, Jayanagar 4th and 9th Blocks, Ulsoor and Madivala, people thronged to buy the traditional bevu (neem) and mavu (mango) leaves bella (jaggery) and flowers

Garment and jewellery shops are crowded with women customers, particularly because of the belief that new clothes and jewellery mark the start of a new year. It is a tradition to buy silk sarees during Ugadi and incidentally most of the major silk showrooms are located in the traditional residential areas.

It has become a custom of sorts for politicians to wish the people on the occasion on banners erected in prominent places in the City. Earlier it was cloth banners. These days it is flex banners.

Thousands of people from north Karnataka residing in Rajajinagar, Basaveshwaranagar, Vijayanagar, Yeshwanthpur and Mahalakshmi Layout have planned to welcome the New Year in their own traditional style.

The celebration in north Karnataka is slightly different from that in Bangalore and Andhra Pradesh. This is the time when people remember elders in the family who are no more. Pooja to the portraits of elders who are no more and also to the family deity.

 There is something magical and mystical about Ugadi in Malleswaram. Magical because, Malleswaram comes alive and in fact, a road in Malleswaram is called Margosa road. Margosa is neem, which is a significant part of Ugadi festivities and ceremonies. 

Mystical, because some of the oldest and hallowed temples in the city are located here.
Kadu Malleshwara temple, Nandi Teertha temple, the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, the Venugopal Temple,  Sri Krishna temple, opposite railway station, Circle Maramma Temple at 18th cross is very famous, Kannika Parameshwari temple on 8th cross built by the Arya Vysya community,  Mahaganapathi Temple located opposite to Malleswaram Post Office, Sai Baba temple near 15 cross and Gangamma Temple next to Lakshmi Narasimhar temple are all located here. The branches of Kanchi Mutt, Kashi Mutt, Chitrapur Mutt, Raghavendra Mutt and Palimar Mutt are also located in Malleswaram are also found here. Malleswaram in a largely Hindu neighbourhood. And during every festival, people congregate at these temple.

 Malleswaram is also a shoppers paradise and in recent times a mall has also opened up. All these lead to a gridlock during festival time and traffic police is deployed specially to regulate both the crowds and vehicles. Whether it is clothes, shoes, fruits, vegetable, flowers, banana leaves, sweets, spices, groceries, vessels, puja items
The prices always shoot up during the festivals. Women bargain and haggle, but not too much. After all it is festival time. Apart from the regular markets, small time vendors set up makeshift stalls.

The entire family wakes up early. They affix torana (mango leaves attached to a string) on the door. These days you get plastic mango leaves (not an eco-friendly practice which should be shunned). An oil bath is de rigueur, so also new clothes. Then there is the festive meal and of course the ubiquitous obbattu.

A typical festive meal comprises traditional Karnataka cuisine with vegetable curries, pickle, happala, sandige, bajji, idlis covered in jackfruit leaves, chutney, rice-dal-sambhar-rasam, sweet pongal, holige.

Today many people are too busy to cook the festive meal at home. Some cannot cook the festive cuisine, but love the taste of it anyway. Others who can cook find cooking the festive meal a big chore. Enterprising restaurateurs have found a solution for this. They offer a multi-course festive meal on a banana leaf preceded by bevu-bella. And if you don’t want to eat in the restaurant, you can take a festive takeaway meal.

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