'Karaga' Fervour At Midnight - The Culmination of Devotion
The auspicious day of Karaga Shakthiotsava falls on the Chaitra Poornima ie. Full Moon Day in the month of Chaitra.This is the ninth day of the festival and starts of with the holy bath. The fast is maintained during the entire day to pay obeisance to the Goddess Draupadi.
On this day the Ganacharis, Gantepoojaris, Poojaris, Veerakumaras and the rest of the devotees gather around the Altar near scared area of the Sampangi Tank. As mentioned earlier a magical stick and knife is placed and pooja is performed to it. On this auspicious day he dresses up in a yellow saree and wears flowers. Under the protection of Veerakumaras and the elders, amidst the sounds of music as played formally in the temple,the Karaga-bearer goes on a Pradarshana (procession) around the temple. The procession is taken around the Elu Suthina Kottai and then proceeds to Shri Dharmaraya Swami Temple.
Karaga-bearer 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-bearer comes out of the Sanctam Sanctorum carrying the Karaga on his head. The Veerakumaras perform Alagusevai intoning the words "Dhik Dhee" and striking their swords to their chests. Aarathi is performed to the Karaga at both the Shri Ganesha and Goddess Muthyalamma temple.
The Karaga then circles the Bhramha Ratha (Chariot) before proceeding further. The Karaga passes through the main roads of the city and the nine gates of Bangalore like Ulsoor Gate, Kengeri Gate, Yelahanka Gate. While passing through the streets or roads the Karaga receives Aarathi from all the temple that are on the way. The Karaga reaches the Shri Dharmaraya Temple early in the morning. It is believed that peace and prosperity follows those who faithfully pray during this time.
A very unique and significant feature is that it visits the famous Hazrat Tawakkal Mastan Darga at Cottonpet after traversing through its route. The muslim community welcomes the Karaga and offers prayers. The Karaga pays obeisance to the Dargah.
Although much of the fetival is symbolic, the devotion one witnesses at the temple in the ecstatic crowds is very real. Before the sunrise, the Karaga is back to the temple and many colourful chariots with deities from various temples traverse in all their grandeur on routes touched by karaga, while about many of these congregate in a procession near the city's Krishnarajapuram Market. It is customary to see people, especially youngsters throw to the top of the chariots, a yellow banana tied to a fragrant flower.
In the morning, several thousand onlookers gather at the temple to get a last glimpse of the Karaga. The experience is an nostalgic one for all those who have come from and wide.