Karaga is the 9 day festival observed by the Vanikula Kshatriya Thigalas, one of the foremost communities in Karnataka.
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It is observed in reverence to their community goddess Adishakti Draupadi. This festival is a major attraction to the people from all walks of life in Bangalore. The Karaga-bearer himself symbolizes Goddess Draupadi and is therefore adorned like a woman.
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The Karaga-bearer leaves the temple around midnight adorned in yellow sari, bangles and a mangalasutra.. The Goddess is brought for the darshan of the devotees from the temple on the
head of the Karaga-bearer. The crowd goes crazy trying to catch a glance of the goddess. The festival is celebrated in a "Chaitra Poornima" (The Full Moon day in the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu calendar). A month or two before the festival, the members meet and discuss about the details of the festivities.
After this community elders are invited to discuss and decide the intricacies of the festivities, the date and time it is to be performed. Arrangements are made for the printing of invitations and its distribution. The Dharmaraya Swamy Temple has been the focal point of this festival since time immemorial.
Karaga is celebrated in different parts of Karnataka in places such as Hoskote, Shanthinagar, Anaekallu, Maluru, Kolar, Vijaypura, Devanahalli, and Yelehanka.
Tradions of Karnataka:
Like most other Indian states, Karnataka too observes Hindu traditions and customs. Most of the customs are replete with religious connotations and the emphasis is on showing proper respect to the elders. Prominent religious centers preserve their ancient customs some of which
are often deemed archaic and parochial.
The karaga itself is a mud pot, on which stands a tall floral pyramid that is balanced on the carrier's head. The contents of the pot have remained a secret down the centuries.
The carrier's arrival is heralded by hundreds of bare-chested, dhoti-clad, turbaned Veerakumaras bearing unsheathed swords.
Tradition has it that this frenzied procession of Veerakumaras accompanying the karaga carrier can execute him should he stumble and let the karaga fall. This festival that takes place in central part of the city is called as Karnataka Festivals.