One of the oldest festivals celebrated in the state of Karnataka; the Karaga festival is a reflection of the region’s glorious history and traditions. It is celebrated annually in the Chaitra month (March/April) according to the Hindu calendar. Though particularly associated with the Thigala community, this grand festival attracts tourists from different parts of the city. People gather in large numbers from across the country to witness the allure of this annual celebration.
The Karaga festival has found its roots in the epic Mahabharata. Thus, it honours Draupadi as the ideal woman and Goddess Shakti. The word ‘Karaga’ translates to an earthen pot, supporting a floral pyramid and an idol of Goddess. The Karaga is carried on the head of the bearer without touching it. The carrier wears a woman’s attire with bangles, mangal-sutra, and vermillion on his forehead.
Spread over 11 days, the festival depicts the religious heritage and rich culture of Karnataka. This extravagant festival takes place at the renowned Dharmaraya Swamy Temple located in Bangalore. While several rituals are performed during these days, the festival’s highlight is the grand procession. This procession is held in the honor of Goddess Shakti on the full moon night and starts from the temple around midnight. After passing through many lanes and bylanes, the procession returns to the temple. To mark the end of the festivities, devotees splash turmeric water on each other. Then, on the very next day, the Karaga is immersed in the salt water pond from which it was brought. The epitome of grandeur, extravagance, and colours, Karanga festival is undoubtedly, one of the most prominent annual celebrations in the state.
However, this year, the celebrations will not see the crowd of devotees due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the celebrations were to begin on April 18 and end on April 27 with the procession. But due to the sudden surge in Covid cases, the Bengaluru Karaga procession has been cancelled just like last year, keeping in mind the social distancing practices. So, the annual Karaga festival will be celebrated with a pooja inside the Dharmaraya Swamy temple without the crowd of devotees.