Karaga Came Karaga
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Karaga Came Karaga

COLOURFUL TRADITION: A priest dressed as a woman carries the karaga in a procession, accompanied by members of the Tigala community dancing and brandishing swords.At the time of British rulers, the top person of the Administration came to temple to stop the karaga festival in the midnight since it disturbs the peaceful sleep of the public, when he reaches the temple on his chariot, he lost his eyesight and horses could not pull the chariot, he realized the power of the Religious beliefs of the people and recognized his mistake and confessed to the karaga shakthi with the help of his servants. After this he had his eyesight back and recommended to the Union Govt., to extend the privilege of keeping swords by Thigala Community for their religious purpose. The exemption is given from weapon prevention act of India the same benefit the Thigalas are utilizing even today. At the same time, the order was passed by the rulers not to restrict the Karaga Shakthyotsava and uthsavas of the Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple. This privilege is in use even today by the temple authorities.

Karaga, one of the oldest festivals of the city

With the month of Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calendar that usually coincides with April, just around the corner, the city, definitely at least its core and also a number of localities in the suburbs, get ready to celebrate Karaga.

One of the oldest festivals of the city, Karaga is a tradition of the Tigala community, who are spread across south Karnataka.

It is the worship of the Tigalas' primary deity, Draupadi, whom they see as an incarnation of goddess Adi Shakti. The men of this community consider themselves as warriors (veerakumaras) of her army. During the Karaga period, it is believed that she comes back to earth and blesses her people.


A unique feature of the Karaga festival is that a man, dressed as a woman, carries the karaga on his head. While a few say that it is a celebration of womanhood and femininity, a section claims that it is the result of Draupadi's curse. It is seen as an insult to Yudhistira, who let the Kauravas humiliate Draupadi in court.

In a gender-bending role that entails inter alia 11 days of asceticism, a man is chosen from the Acharya Pujari sect of the Tigala community, for it requires the physical strength of a male to carry the karaga.

Karaga priest performs austerities since six months and he wears his wife’s mangala sutra (Holy knot), who gets it back by a marriage ceremony on the 10th day. She will not be seeing her husband from the time of Vijayadashami who will reside in the temple till the Karaga is over. So when the Karaga procession stops in front of her house, she, unlike the other devotees cannot come out to be blessed. On the lines of Vijayadashami celebration of Dussera or Dasara, so also on the final day it’s triumph of good that the Karaga celebrates.

Karaga enters the Sanctam Sanctorum in the temple and after a while amidst the chant of the name of Lord Govinda the vedas and mantras are recited and the music reaches the limits of the sky. At this moment the Karaga comes out of the Sanctam Sanctorum carrying the Karaga on his head. Aarathi is performed to the Karaga at both the Shri Ganesha and Goddess Muthyalamma temple.The veerakumaras perform Alagusevai intoning the words Alalala-Di-Di-Di-Dhik-Dhee-Dhik-Dhee and striking their swords to their chests.Veerakumars will observe fasting till the festival gets over.

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