On a spiritual trail

On a spiritual trail

Worship of Goddess Durga was popularised in Karnataka during the reign of the Vijayanagara kings who patronised Navaratri celebrations to commemorate the victory of good over evil. The festival gathered momentum over time and to this day, it is celebrated with much pomp throughout the State. Durga temples across the State witness impressive events during the 10-day period, culminating in Vijayadashami, in the lines of the famous Chamundeshwari Temple of Mysuru. Here are some of those temples that celebrate Dasara with fervour.

Bappanadu Temple

The Durga Parameshwari Temple stands majestic on the banks of Shambhavi river, in Bappanadu village, Mulki. The shrine lies on NH-66, almost equidistant from Mangaluru and Udupi, with each being 30 km away from the Temple. The Temple and the village take their name from Bappa Beary, a muslim merchant from Kerala, who constructed the Temple 800 years ago.

The shrine is one of the principal Shakti centres of worship in Karnataka. Durga is worshipped in the shrine in the form of five lingas — Moola, Agni, Jala, Vana and Agra. These are on a single peeta (pedestal) with the idol of Durga placed in front. The edifice is rather unique as it is regarded as a symbol of communal harmony. All devotees, regardless of caste and creed, are allowed entry to the Temple. Like most temples in Dakshina Kannada, the structure of this Temple is also inspired by Kerala style temple
architecture.

Cultural programmes form an intergral part of the Temple’s festivities during Dasara. This culminates with the Prasanna Puja. All communities of people participate in the events with great aplomb, each discharging duties in accordance with their specific talents that have come down through the ages. Special pujas and annadaana are also done on all the days.

Kateel Temple
Ensconced amid expansive greenery, Kateel Durga Parameshwari Temple forms an islet in the gushing Nandini river. Legend has it that the region once reeled under severe drought and was tyrannised by the demon Arunasura who was protected by a boon granted to him by Brahma. The boon allowed him to be invincible against any two or four-legged creature. Sage Jabali who decided to resolve the situation sought Indra’s help for the purpose. Indra sent Kamadhenu’s daughter, Nandini, to help the sage. The young cow stubbornly refused to come fearing the evil present on Earth. A frustrated Jabali cursed her and willed her to flow as a river in the drought-stricken land. Nandini flowed out of Kanakagiri and was redeemed of her curse when Goddess Durga was born to her as her daughter.

Goddess Durga in the guise of a beautiful woman lured Arunasura and led him to a chase in the midst of the river where she disappeared into a huge boulder. Livid with rage, Arunasura shattered the boulder with his sword. Much to his dismay, millions of bhramara or bumble bees emerged stinging him to death. Thus, Goddess Durga came to be worshipped here as Bhramaramba, the Mother of Bumble Bees.

Navaratri is celebrated with much pomp and pageantry at the Temple, beginning with chandika homa on the first day of the festivities. Rangapuja, thula bhara, harikatha and chanting Vedas form a regular feature here on all nine days. On Maha Navami day, the goddess is propitiated with kadubu, a cylindrically shaped rice-cake. Yakshagana is
performed as an offering to Durga Parameshwari, as she is fond of dance and music.

Kollur Temple
Kollur is one of Karnataka’s Sapta Muktisthalas (seven places of pilgrimage) that offer salvation. It is also the only one among the seven dedicated to Goddess Shakti — the other six are dedicated to either Subramanya or Ganesha. The Temple is picturesquely set on the banks of Souparnika river, at the foothills of the Western Ghats. The river takes its name from Suparna or Garuda who is said to have meditated here and attained salvation.

With a history of over 1,200 years, the Temple is believed to have been created by Parashurama in dedication to Goddess Parvathi. According to legends, it was here in Kollur that goddess killed the demon Kaumasura, who was given the name Mookasura when he was cursed to be mute. Since then, the goddess resided as Mookambika or Adi Shakti. In this form she is an integration of goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali on one side and of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, on the other. An idol of Goddess Mookambika in panchaloha or five metals with three eyes and four arms bearing the divine disc and conch is present. The Sri Chakra is said to have been consecrated by Adi Shankara during his visit here. The Temple comprises a sanctorum, a hall and a mantapa at the rear. It also has shrines for many other deities as well in its courtyard. The 135-foot-long mantapa has four beautifully adorned pillars with carvings of deities. A towering deepasthambha with a tortoise head as base and 21 concentric circles stands at the entrance of the Temple’s inner courtyard.

While the Temple celebrates all traditional Hindu festivals, not many match the grandeur of Navaratri. On Vijayadashami day, one can see many children visiting the Temple for their Vidya Aarambham ceremony, which is their initiation into the world of education and knowledge. The goddess as Alankara Murthy is adorned differently on all nine days. As utsava murthy, she is taken in procession on a majestically adorned floral chariot on the ninth day of celebrations.

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