If you are a Mangalorean away from home, I’m sure the title would have made you smile. If you are not, well here’s a glimpse as to how this festival is celebrated in this small coastal city of Karnataka.
Several major buildings lit up for Navrathri
Mangaluru Dasara is organised by Kudroli Gokarnanatheshwara temple. This temple is at its grandest during Navrathri. Along with Sharada Devi’s idol, nine different forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. On the tenth day there’s a procession held and throughout the ten days the entire city i.e the path to be taken by the procession is lit up brilliantly.
Entrance to the Kudroli temple
Sharada Devi at Kudroli temple
Walking on the street one can often come across Hulivesha or also called as Tiger dance. Now this is something that Tulunadu is well known for. Groups of boys and men painted as tigers dance and perform stunts to awesome drum beats. Trust me, people who grew up in Mangaluru cannot stop themselves from shaking their heads or tapping their feet to these drum beats. There are even competitions held called as Pili Nalike and the best group is awarded. (Pili = Tiger in Tulu).
Hulivesha, the folk dance unique to Tulunadu Picture Credits: Karthik Shenoy
Another eye catching event is the Sharada Mahotsava which is organised by the Venkatramana temple. Here we have one of the most beautiful idols of Sharada Devi and the thing which stands out is how her hair is dressed. This is called as ‘jalli’, where the Devi’s head is adorned with jasmine flowers. I personally feel that this is the most divine idol in the city. On the last day the idol is taken to the Mahamaya temple and immersed in the lake.
Sharada Devi at Venkatramana temple
Sharada Devi’s ‘jalli’
One of the oldest temples in the city dedicated to Devi is the Mangaladevi temple. The city Mangaluru got its name from this temple. Initially called as Mangalapura, then Mangalore and now Mangaluru. There is also another temple close by dedicated to Goddess Mariyamma who is believed to be Mangaladevi’s sister. My mother always used to tell me that there is an age old belief that if we visit only Mangaladevi and not Mariyamma, the latter would get angry. To this day she insists on going to both the temples during Navrathri.
Lights that bright up the city
As a part of Dasara celebrations several cultural programs are organised in each of the temple square. Various classical dance and singing academies take this as an opportunity to showcase the talent of their students. Since it’s the holidays children don’t mind performing till late in the night. Also one can find a number of stalls on the roadside near the temples selling balloons, toys, snacks and what not. Festival time is business time for them.
Cultural program at Sharada Mahotsava
Stalls near Kudroli temple
Simple and elegant, Mangaluru Dasara gives the entire city a festive glow and leaves the people bathed in joy. So there you go. This is just one example of what makes the city charming. There are various other ‘Mangaluru special’ things that are worth giving a try. FYI, Mangaluru is also called Kudla (in Tulu) and Kodial (in Konkani). Spend a weekend here, and I’m pretty sure you’ll fall in love with it.