Flood-hit Badami to rise again with fair

Sri Banashankari Jaatra, Badami.

Manjunath, a temple guard in Pattadakal, Bagalkot district, recalls the nightmare he survived during the recent floods that ravaged several parts of Karnataka.

When overnight the water flooded the temple premises, he and 15 other colleagues had no choice but to spend two days on the temple roof, until rescue teams arrived. With no food or water, they were trying to keep themselves safe from snakes that had come afloat with the water.

Manjunath survived. And many others like him are now looking forward to the annual Banashankari Fair in Badami to put the calamity behind, get closure and begin the New Year on a fresh note. The fair is set to commence January 10.

While every year, the Banashankari Temple Fair, at Cholachagudd near Badami draws lakhs of devotees, this year, it’s an occasion for the devotees to reimpose faith in the local deity. “The devotees come here annually to buy supplies. This year, they will come more for faith in the local deity, after enduring the floods,” a police personnel in Badami said.

The festive atmosphere in the is testament to this sentiment.

Early on the morning of January 7, at least 15 festooned bullock carts were lined up near the Badami bus stand, in Bagalkot district. The carts brought along several families from surrounding villages, who arrived to take part in the fair.

As one proceeded towards the Banashankari Temple, the vicinity of the temple saw rows of various stalls, drama troupes and entertainment units, being set up for the fest.

The fair, which begins with the ‘Maha Rathotsava’, goes on for a month.

Chairman of the Banashankari temple trust, Mallar Bhatt Shankar Bhatt Pujar told DH, “Just the day of the Rath yatra sees about 70,000 devotees. Rest of the days, there is a floating population.”

According to a conservative estimate by the local police, no less than 10 lakh people visited the town during the fair last year. From utensils, stationery and toys to furniture, the fair includes a wide range of

Revanna and his family, who come to the fair annually to sell kitchenware, shared a popular sentiment about the fair: “You can buy everything here, except a mother and father.”

Nonetheless, the tradesman are cautious about the sales this year. Mohan, a shopkeeper from Vijayapura, who has a stall here, explained: “I expect a dip in sales this time as not everybody might purchase anything other than essential items. There has been an overall dip in sales post the floods, in all the fairs in North Karnataka.”

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