Mandya's date with tradition

Miscellany

Mandya's date with tradition

The annual Shiva Deepotsava, which symbolises liberation from darkness to light, was celebrated on December 15 at Alakere, 15 km from Mandya. The festival is an occasion to unite people of all communities in Alakere and the neighbouring Keelara village.

People from Keelara came to Alakere  in a procession, along with the traditional nandi kamba and the beating of tamate and other instruments. The procession idols (utsava murtis), kept in the homes of the locals, were brought to the temple. The devotees, holding the deities, circumambulated the temple thrice. A piece of white cloth was then burnt near the idol of Basava at the entrance of the temple.

There was a contest of sorts to gather the holy ashes. After this ritual, it was time for lighting rows of lamps placed in the temple precincts. This marked the beginning of Shiva Deepotsava.On the day of the Deepavali Amavasya, a tall lamp post is put up in front of the temple and an akashabutti is hung from it, to indicate that the Shiva Deepotsava is round the corner.

The chandramandala, a canopy of areca nut tree branches, is created and colourful flags are attached to it. An attractive umbrella is placed at the summit to complete the decorations. Replicas of the utsava murtis are placed beneath the canopy and are decorated to herald the festivities. The chandramandala is then take out in a procession.

On the day of the Shiva Deepotsava, the rathotsava or the chariot procession was taken out through the main thoroughfares of the village and the festivities continued into the early hours. The Deepotsava was also celebrated at the temples of Adishakti, Shani and Kattemadappa in the village.

Legend has it that, three centuries ago, the place where the Shiva temple is situated was desolate and full of thorns and weeds. The village head chanced upon a Shivalinga, while a cow was being milched at this spot. A priest from the Lingayat community was appointed to perform puja, after building a small temple for the deity.

In course of time, a bigger temple was constructed housing two sanctum sanctorums (garbha griha), one for the Shivalinga and the other for Veerabhadra. A settlement soon developed around the temple. It came to be called Halukare or Halukere, which later transformed to Alakere.
(Translated by C V Ramachandra)

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