Karaga is the oldest traditional festival of Bengaluru, Karnataka. The famous folk dance of Karaga is a traditional ritual which is dedicated to Mahabharata’s Draupadi. Till today, Bengaluru celebrates the famous Karaga Festival by following all traditional rituals. But, the Karaga festival is too much controversial as well! Let’s discuss some unknown facts, better to say, unknowns secrets of Bengaluru’s Karaga Festival!
The actual meaning of “Karaga”:
The word “Karaga” actually means headgear in English. The main motto of this festival is to place the 3 feet long pot exactly upon the head of the person without even lifting it by the hand. This Karaga pot or the headgear is actually a heavily decorated pot with flowers like jasmine by tuning it with a century-old tradition of Karnataka. The Karaga consists of a secret pot! This traditional festival is invoked after following secret rituals in a pot.
When the Karaga Festival happens & how performs it?
According to the old tradition, the Kagara festival is celebrated on a full moon day specifically on the first month of the Hindu calendar which is Chaitra Month. This traditional festival is mainly carried out by a Veerakumara. Who is Veerakumara? Veerakumara is a person who is specially chosen by the Karnataka community leaders to perform the old traditional rituals of Karaga festival. The Tigalas community or the Vahnikula Kshatriyas community from Bengaluru, Karnataka believes in female power or Shakti! In English, Shakti simply means power! Traditionally, this festival is depicted by an experienced priest who wears a woman’s attire to represent the Shakti of a woman.
The legend behind the Karaga Festival:
According to the legends, the Veerakumaras are decedents which are actually an army of brave men. This army was created by Draupadi for destroying the demon named Timirasura. According to the story of Mahabharata, when Draupadi and Pandavas were about to begin their journey to Heaven or Swarg, Draupadi is accosted by a demon named Timarasura while waiting for a chariot. As she has to face the demon along, she created the army of Veerakumaras to fight out Timarasura. After the army of Veerakumaras vanquished the demon, Veerakumaras urged Draupadi to stay back. So, she promised them that she will come to earth for visiting them each and every year during full moon days.
The reason for the priest being in cross-dressing:
The Karaga carrier dresses like a woman after undergoing a physical and psychological transformation. Wearing woman attire, the profane human becomes holy and divine. The priest becomes sacred through the ritual called vratha. After that, he practices abstinence as he leads a separated life from his family. While transforming, the clean shaven priest wears mangalsutra of his wife and a turmeric-dyed sari. His body becomes the moving shrine and is guarded by Veerakumaras. The Veerakumaras with bare chests and swords protects the priest as a sign of masculinity.
The Karaga ritual begins from the famous Dharmarayaswami temple at Thigalarpet which is the only temple dedicated to Pandavas!