1. Ganesha Chaturthi - One of the Main Festivals of Karnataka
This is one festival all of us know about. It is the day that we celebrate in devotion to Lord Ganesha, son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. All of us know the story of how Lord Ganesha was created. The festival is celebrated over a period of 10 days, it begins on the 4th day of the waxing moon period(Shukla Chaturthi) and ends on the 14th day of the waxing moon period(Anant Chaturdashi) in the month of August or September.
In public places, clay idols of Lord Ganesha are placed in all the holy shrines and prayed upon while in the houses a small area of the house is cleaned and the idol is placed and prayed upon. The main sweet dish of this festival is the Modak which is a dumpling that is made from rice/wheat flour and stuffed with coconut, jaggery, dried fruits etc. Another sweet dish is Karanji which is also similar to the modak.
This festival is very sacred to the Hindus. On this festival four main rituals are performed which are as follows:
Prana Pratishtha: It is when Lord Ganesha is asked to come inside the Murthi or idol
Shodashopachara: It is the 16 ways to pay tribute to Lord Ganesha
Uttar Puja: It is the puja after which Lord Ganesha has entered the Murthi and can now be shifted
Ganpati Visarjan : This is when the murthi or idol of Lord Ganesha is immersed into the river body be it a lake, pond or the sea.
2. UgadiIt is a popular festival in the Karnataka, Andhra, and Telangana regions which is celebrated with a lot of joy and fervour. According to the locals, this period is believed to be very auspicious especially for the ones making new beginnings. Ugadi is a portmanteau of the words - ‘Yuga’ (which means period or generation) and ‘Adi’ (which means beginnings) since it is believed that Lord Brahma created the universe on this day.
Families get together on this day to pray to the deities and have a feast. The houses are decorated with lots of flowers and fresh mango leaves. A significant event in temples and homes during the celebrations is the reading of Panchangam or the Hindu calendar bearing the list of events for the year. The speciality dishes prepared on this day include Bevu Bella, Holige, Hesaru Bele Payasa, and Mavinakayi Chitranna.
3. Hampi Festival
Hampi festival which is also known as Vijaya Utsav is a famous festival to celebrate the birthday of the ancient poet Purandaradasa who lived in Hampi and is normally celebrated in the month of either October or November over a period of 3 days. This festival attracts people from all over the world.
In this festival, the Kannadigas show their talent in dance, art and music. There are also other activities like fireworks and puppet which is an eye-catcher for tourists everywhere. Not only that Hampi is a rich cultural place that is named as one of the heritage of India according to UNESCO which gives it all the more tourism.
The Karnataka government celebrates this festival on a large scale due to its fame. Young local boys dress up as military from the golden era and line up in the lanes of Hampi.
There is a concert of folk songs called ‘Janapada Kala Vahini’ which is a very big attraction
There is an elephant marth across the ruins of Hampi which is almost 15 km known as ‘Jumbo Savari’.
The monuments in the whole 15 km of the ruins of Hampi is lit up with lights giving it a mesmerising look that is truly a beauty in itself.
There are performances by both national and international stars. 2015 seen performances from Himesh Reshammiya, Mika Singh etc. Other than all these cultural activities there are water sports and games for kids and family, exhibitions, painting competitions etc.
4. Gowri Festival
This is a festival celebrated one day before Ganesh Chaturthi as a day to pay tribute to goddess Gowri, mother of Lord Ganesha. It is a day celebrated not only in Karnataka but throughout India to praise the Goddess for her power to bestow strength and courage on the people. It is said that on this day the Goddess Gowri like any other wife comes to her parents home and the next day Lord Ganesha comes to take her back home.
On this day the ladies and females of the house have a clean bath and dress up in new clothes and do Sthapana of the Jalgauri which is the statue of Goddess Gowri in turmeric.The goddess is mounted on a plate and a puja is done which is supposed to be done with suchi (cleanliness) and devotion.
A bagina is prepared consisting of turmeric, kum kum, black bead and bangles, comb, small mirror, Bangalurucoconut, rice, dal etc. One bagina is offered to the Goddess Gauri.
The married woman’s family sends her a Gauri Habadda or a gift on this day it can even be money.
Performed on a full moon day the Karaga is a folk dance performed as a ritual dedicated to Draupadi. It is one of the oldest festivals performed in the Bengaluru. It is led by the men because in the last part of Mahabharatha the demon Tripurasura was still alive and Draupadi took the form of a shakti goddess and created soldiers called Veerakumaras. After the war, the soldiers asked her to stay but she couldn’t, so she promised to come to visit them on the first full moon of the Hindu Calendar.
There is a Karaga carrier, dressed up as a woman carries the Karaga which is a pyramid covered in flowers and visits all the Veerakumaras in his temporary Devi State. Nobody knows what is inside the Karaga, the carrier balances it very well on his and is not to drop it or else will die as is believed. The Karaga returns to the temple the next day by dawn.
The Karaga festival is a beautiful festival which sees the respect and loves the people have for Draupadi, the Shakti Devi.
6. Pattadakal Dance Festival
The Pattadakal dance festival is organised every year on a very large scale by the Karnataka Government in the month of January to honour and celebration of all its famous temples.
The Pattadakal village is situated 20 km from Badami in Karnataka. It is a world heritage centre and famously known for its many well-constructed temples as it was the second capital of the chalukya kings.
Most of these temples at the Pattadakal village are devoted to Lord Shiva with beautiful structure and carvings on them. The largest of all the temples are Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna.
This festival sees many different and beautiful dancers from not only Karnataka but the whole country. Another major attraction of the Pattadakal festival is the craft mela that is organised here like nowhere else.
Another famous dance festival of Karnataka is the ‘Hoysala Mahotsava’ in Belur-Halebid.
7. Mahamastakabhisheka (Shravanabelagola)
A very important Jain festival that is held every once in 12 years in the town of Shravanabelagola in Karnataka, India. The festival sees the anointing the 17.3736 metres tall statue of Siddha Bahubali.
As this festival begins, the devotees sprinkle blessed holy water on the people come to participate in the festival. Then, the statue is anointed or bathed with liquids such as milk, sugarcane juice, saffron paste, and powder of sandalwood, turmeric and vermilion. The Jain nuns climb up the Vindhyagiri hills to reach the enormous statue.
Offerings made to the statue are petals, gold and silver coins, precious stones. In 2006, the ceremony ended with the shower of flowers from a helicopter onto the statue and people jumped up to catch those flowers as a blessing.
This festival was last celebrated in 2006 and will next be celebrated in 2018.
8. Kambala Festival
Kambala festival is a traditional buffalo race organised annually in Dakshin Kannada and Udipi districts of Karnataka by the farming communities. It is held between November and March. A pair of buffaloes is tied to a plough and is made to run through a field of slush, anchored by a farmer. The origin of this festival can be traced back to over 1000 years when the festival was celebrated to appease gods for a good harvest.
9. Mysore DasaraDasara or Navratri is a widely celebrated 10-day-long festival in India but the Mysore Dasara celebrations definitely step it up a notch. Chamundeshwari, an incarnation of goddess Parvati killed the demon Mahishasura during this period to mark the triumph of the good over evil.
In 15th Century, the kings of the Vijayanagara empire started the practice of celebrating it with a lot of show and pomp. This tradition has continued till this day and Mysore Dasara became the state festival of Karnataka. The Mysore Palace is lit up during this period with a hundred thousand bulbs and there is a carnival-like atmosphere across the city. The highlight is the ninth day of the festival (called Mahanavami) when a massive procession with elephants and dancers is taken out in the streets of the city. There is also an exhibition organised by the state with joy rides, clothes/handicraft stalls and food counters.
10. Karnataka RajyotsavaThe state of Karnataka was born on the 1st of November in the year 1956. On this day (a declared state-holiday), the Karnataka state flag is hoisted by the Chief Minister of the state and the governor addresses the people of the state. It is a common sight to see the official yellow and red state flag flying on various government and private establishments.
Typically, a cultural gala is organised in a large stadium and many awards are handed out to individuals who were exemplary in their respective fields. The highest state honour is the Rajyotsava award which is handed out by the Chief Minister.
11. Makara SankrantiIt is a 3-day long festival and marks the arrival of the harvest season. The first day is known as Boghi which is the last day of the Margashirsha month during which all the old articles and clothing of the households are burnt. The houses are decorated with rangoli and a new vessel to prepare traditional sweets is introduced to the house to welcome the arrival of the new month.
On the day of Sankranti, people make their offerings to the deities, wear new clothes and enjoy dishes such as Sweet Pongal, Sankranti Yellu, Payasa, Vade, etc. The final day of the festival includes rituals to thank and offer prayers to the cattle known as Kanu Pongal.
12. Vairamudi FestivalHeld annually in the town of Melukote in Mandya district, this festival is dedicated to Lord Cheluvu Narayana. A special attraction of the festival is the Vairamudi (diamond crown) worn by the deity. The crown holds a special significance and is not supposed to be exposed to daylight. It is preserved carefully and the head priest of the temple places the crown on the deity’s head in the evening upon which a grand procession is taken out. This procession goes on until wee hours.
The festival goes on for 13-days and the preparations begin a month before that. It is an important festival for Vaishnavites or the followers of Lord Vishnu. The grand affair is held in the month of March-April and the entire event is sponsored by the district administration. Close to 400,000 devotees witness this event every year.
13. Tula SankramanaThe Tula Sankramana is the first day of the Kodava community’s Toleyar month. River Cauvery holds a special significance and is revered by the Kannadiga population. It is believed that the goddess Cauvery rises from the water on this day to bless her devotees. On this day, thousands of people throng near the Talacauvery river to witness the water levels rise. Following this, they take a dip in the holy river as it is considered auspicious.
It is usually held on the 17th day of October and around 100,000 devotees from various parts of Karnataka gather in the Kodagu district to participate in the festivities.
14. Sri Vithappa FairHeld in the town of Vithappa, the fair is a yearly tradition for over 200 years now. It is a 3-day long celebration in honour of Lord Vithappa wherein a grand procession with a palanquin carrying the god’s idol and drummers is carried out. The people from nearby towns also join the fair and an animal is sacrificed in front of the god.
Karnataka truly is One State, Many Worlds. Which of these festivals have you witnessed? Let us know in the comments below?