Kudla Dasara

Kudla Dasara

Mangalores Naada Habba is unique in more ways than one

The all-night dasara procession from Gokarnanatheshwara temple in Mangalore on Vijayadashami takes a 10-km route, twice as long as Mysore’s Jamboo Savari. DH photo by Anand Bakshi

Dasara has been synonymous with Mysore and the grand celebrations pioneered by the imperial Wadiyars, a giant elephant carrying the golden howdah, jamboo savari and swarming tourists. However, if one has witnessed ‘Kudla Dasara’ (Kudla is the colloquial name of Mangalore city in Tulu dialect), perhaps, his or her opinion would irreversibly change.

Mangalore’s Dasara is celebrated as a ‘Naada Habba’, literally! Though the essence of the celebration is the same — worship of Goddess Shakti in her nine different avatars — the mode varies with the culture and tradition of each region.

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

Perhaps, Mangalore Dasara is the only Dasara which is celebrated on a very grand scale with the expenditure running into crores and, yet, without a single rupee’s contribution coming from the government (unlike Mysore or Madikeri Dasaras).

Right from the installation of idols of Sharada and Navadurgas to their immersion in the temple pond on the last day of Navarathri festivities (this year it falls on September 28), the celebrations are simply magnificent.

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


Navadurgas are invoked during Navarathri festival to bring health, wealth and happiness to the coastal people. The idols are immersed in the temple pond on Vijayadashami, symbolising new beginnings.Every year, the Gokarnanatheshwara temple decks up much before the festivities start with clay idols of the ‘Navadurgas’ installed in the temple premises. Thus, the goddesses Shail Putri (Parvathi), Brahmacharini (who gives the message of pure love to the world), Chandra Ghanta (who establishes justice and wears crescent moon on her head), Kushmaandini (provider of  basic necessities), Skandaputhri (who gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong), Katyayini (who persistently battles against evil and deceitful entities), Kaalaratri (who killed Raktabeeja, a demon), Maha Gauri (who liberates the world of evil forces) and Sidhidaathri (who is a treasure house of mystic powers) are invoked to bless Mangalore on the nine days from September 19 to 28.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Sri Gokarnanatheshwara Temple Renovation Committee Secretary Harikrishna Bantwal said this 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, would get the feeling of entering a ‘darbar of gods and goddesses.’ It is hard to believe that the magnificent, larger than life-size idols, designed by renowned artists and decked in attractive costumes, are immersed on the last day.

The Mangalore Dasara is unique because of the participation of people, irrespective of caste or creed. Out of the nearly 100 tableaus (mounted on 100 trucks) on different mythological themes, only 14 tableaus 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 people carrying 1,000 colourful umbrellas (from Kerala),  tiger dance (pilivesha) and bear dance (karadivesha) troupes, the Kalladka dolls and the illumination of the entire 10-km route of the all-night procession is a feast for the eyes which literally forces every Mangalorean out onto the street to catch a glimpse.

Come September 28 and almost all Mangalore roads are closed to traffic. The procession which starts around 4.30 pm, passes through the main roads of the city and culminates at the temple the following day around 5 am.

Poojary, the ‘soul’ of temple

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 then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Though Mr Poojary is the whole and soul of the temple and no works in the temple are done without consulting him, neither he nor his family members hold any post in the temple administration.

Asked the reason, the septuagenarian politician quips: “I have been doing the temple seva (service) from the age of 13. We would regularly cut the wild growing grass and pave the ground (now covered with marble) with cow dung. I am continuing the seva.”

“Mr Poojary visited several temples across India before finalising the present design of the temple,” Harikrishna Bantwal notes and adds that the construction was completed in a record 13 months’ time.

Unique Linga

This is also 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 where the Shiva Linga was installed by Sri Narayana Guru. Lord Sri Gokarnanatha (another form of Lord Shiva) is the presiding deity.

The temple has two water sources believed to have been shown by Narayana Guru himself. Water from these sources, one inside the temple and the other outside,  is used for all temple complex needs. Except these two water sources, none of the wells in the vicinity have sweet water (the temple is located near the Arabian sea).
Burkha-clad women, nuns, priests and people from many other faiths are drawn to the Kshethra, which is truly a symbol of “Unity in divinity”.