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The Magnificent Mangaluru Dasara, A festival of its own

Known by many names such as Marnemi in Tulu, Mannemi in Konkani, and even as Navratri or Vijayadashami, the Mangalore Dasara is a grand festival organized by the Kudroli Shri Gokarnatheshwara temple in the city of Mangalore in India. Some of the many famous features of the festival include the tiger dance, the fascinating lion dance, and the bear dance. The entire city comes alive for a span of ten days lighting up everything from lamp posts to houses and buildings. For ten whole days, the city shines like a beautiful star with attractive lights hanging all over its buildings and trailing its roads. It certainly is a sight to see and of course, it certainly is a great experience. However, it was not always called the Mangalore Dasara. What started as the Sharada Dasara has now ended up being called the Mangalore Dasara.

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In Hindu mythology, each god or goddess is said to have an animal that they favour. According to legend, goddess Sharada favours the mighty tiger and therefore the people of Mangalore perform the tiger dance, colloquially known as the Pilinalike in an attempt to please the goddess. Men form troops of five or ten and cover their bodies in paint that makes them resemble tigers. They then perform to the beats of the drums played by bands. They often go to different houses and perform for at least ten minutes for each of them all while collecting some money for having performed for them.  

During the festivities, the streets will be filled with idols of goddess Sharada alongside idols of Lord Ganesha and the Navadurgas. The Navadurgas include Shaila Putri, brahmacharini, It is the priests at swama kalamanapa who install these idols after the chanting of Vedic mantras and carrying out other related rituals. Another magnificent spectacle to behold during the festivities relating to Dasara is the Gangavathrana hosted by the Kudroli Temple. There will be four 13 feet long idols of Lord Shiva with a water jet that rises up to 100 feet in the air. As the water falls down it takes the shape of the shiva linga in a breathtaking sight. 

Another striking feature of the Dasara festivities is a grand procession that starts from the Gokarnatheshwara temple on the evening of Vijayadashami and ends early in the next morning after the idols have been put to rest in the waters of Pushkarni pond which lies inside the temple complex. The Mangala Devi temple also hosts a grand festival in the light of Dasara which has performances of ballet, folk music, and a grand Rathotsava on the golden chariot. At the same time, Sri Venkatramana temple also hosts majestic festivities which is called popularly as the Sharada Mahotsav. Here, too, the idols are carried in a procession with hundreds of devotees in tow, ending with the immersion of the idol at the temple lake of Mahamaya. 

However, as the number of tableaus is on the increase, Kudroli temple has noticed this causes a delay in the idols reaching back to the temple for the immersion and has therefore decided to make some changes this year by carrying the idols of Nava Durga, Ganesha and Sharada first. The trucks that carry the tableau will trail behind the ones carrying idols. ‘

Apart from the aforementioned spectacles, the dasara festival also comes with the exhibition of various forms of art like Yakshagana, Karaga, gombe and more. The tradition of celebrating Dasara has been a part of Mangalore’s tradition since time immemorial. This year, Dasara will be celebrated starting from 17th October to the 25th of October. 

However this year will not be like every other year as devotees are strictly required to comply with the COVID protocol and have instructed to make use of masks, sanitizers and thermal scanning facilities. There will also be separate entry and exit points for the devotees to make use of. A team consisting of 100 to 200 volunteers will be ensuring that the guidelines are strictly followed by the worshippers. 

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