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Festivals in Mangalore

Mangalore: A land where cultures meet; where people of different religions learn to love each other; a place where languages seize to be a barrier of communication; where people learn over and over to celebrate each other with grand fervour and in turn, live in harmony with each other. Celebration has become a part and parcel of the lives of mangaloreans. Therefore, this article aims to throw light on the festivals of Mangalore.

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Mangalore Dussera/ Navratri Festival

On one side, a troop painted and dressed as tigers also known as Pili Nailike, another dressed as lions, and a few as bears dancing to the beats of the large drum and the audience at the Kudroli Shri Gokarneshwara Temple is mesmerised. During the Mnagalore Dussera, these troops roam the city and present their dance performances honouring Goddess Sharada. Colours and lights adorn homes, buildings and even the Mangalore City Corporation building. This festival initially known as Sharada Mahotsava started by B. R. Karkera is over a hundred years old. Idols of Hindu Gods Shiva, Sharada and Ganapati are worshipped during this nine day festival.

On August 11th, the day of Sri Krishna Jayanthi,  it is not only the people of North India who celebrate ‘Dahi Handi’. People of Karnataka do too. In Dakshina Kannada, people crowd in the roads to watch the skills of those participating in the ‘Mosuru Kudike’ or ‘Vittal Pindi’. Mythology says that the festival tries to depict Lord Krishna’s mischiefs with his young friends. But for mangaloreans, the festival emphasises the value of human trust and confidence in one another.

Aati Kalenje

The spirit of nature Kalenje they believe visits the earth during the month of Aati that falls in July and August to bless the populace and in turn rid them of bad omens, disease and disaster. This is commemorated by celebrating Aati Kalenje where members of the Nalike tribe dressed as the spirit visit homes and in return the members of the family offer them turmeric, charcoal, paddy and other offerings.

 Jain Food Festival

Food, community and Mangalore is a combination made in heaven. Since the city also has a significant population who follow Jainism, Jain Milanis a community formed by them. This community get together once a year for this festival to connect members of the community

Kodial Theru or Mangaluru Rathotsava

The dual names of this festival held in January or February come from the Konkani and Kannada equivalents of the five day car festival. The first three days include rituals and temple activities that prominently consist of placing a deity on a giant white and red palanquin or ratha and parading it around the city. Day four and five are called Saan Theru (small car Utsav) and Hod Theru (big car Utsav) respectively. Day five also celebrates the festival of colours Holi or what is regionally known as Okkuli.  If one is celebrating Holi, it is incomplete without colours on everyone’s face as they dance to the music in their ‘ Bhaang’ high state of mind.

Monti Fest

This is the Catholic festival of harvest that commemorates the feast of Nativity of Mother Mary among the Konkani community of Mangalore. Monti is the Konkani name for Mother Mary and is celebrated in September. One can see adults and youngsters attend the mass at church with fresh flowers for nine days before the day of the feast and offer it to Mother Mary as a symbol of love.


As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, Muslims as well as those from other denominations come together to celebrate Eid-ul Fitr. On the day of the festival, one can see mosques and Eidgahs flood with people as they enter and exit in prayerful composure. For someone who is not a mangalorean, it may come as a surprise, but not to the natives who know that the Light House Hill Road of Mangalore right outside Eidgah masjid will be flocked by worshippers offering their prayers the large crowd cannot be accommodated inside the masjid. Youngsters as well as the old embrace each other and exchange gifts as they wish each other the best for the coming year. Homes will welcome guests and relatives to the feast with dishes like biryani and vermicelli dishes called sevaiyya. A day that embraces love and peace.


Folklore says that Tulu nadu welcomes King Balindra lovingly called as Bali Chakravarthy back from the netherworlds to where he was sent by Vamana, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Tuluvas decorate their homes with lights and even cattles are given respect during the festival. Their cows are well fed, treated with sweets, decorated and offered arthis. Before the Deepavali festival, Yakshagana mela and Goodudeepa competitions are held with colourful lanterns covering the sky.


Like many cities, Christmas celebrations start even before the day arrives. December 1st brings out the red and green Christmas decorations and the tree in homes, institutions, restaurants and cafes. Christmas music is played throughout the day and people cannot hold back smiles. The carolers visit these places with their ‘fa la las’ and red caps and bring on the christmas cheer. The christmas day starts with the believers attending the mass in church. After which, they go back home and the entire day continues with the big feast, sharing some wine with family and friends and wishing each other a very Merry Christmas.

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