Car festivals in Coastal Karnataka

From Car festivals

Come November and its beginning of car festivals at temples in coastal Karntaka. The festivities will be spread around 5-7 days and last 3 days devotees visit the temples in large numbers. During this time idols are taken out in palanquin or chariot and the last but one day is the car festival day.
This is also the time when people staying away from home try to make it to their native so that they can meet friends and relatives.
During my vacation first one to be visited was the Ganesha temple at Anegudde ( around 30 km from Udupi). At the entrance we were greeted with 2 boys who were supposed to ward of evils buy beating themselves !! They were collecting money by beating themselves with long whips made up of coir and collecting money from the passers by. They were good at keeping track of people who had given money and who had not.
From Car festivals
Car festivals All along the way there were shops selling offerings for the god. You can find every kind of makeshift shops selling electronic items, sweets, clothes and toys which are generally in majority. The temple is situated on hillock and till sometime back one could see loitering monkeys on the climb up. But this time around I could not sight even one! We reached the temple and prayed. When we came out, there was a guy posing as Mahathma Gandhi and he was painted in silver from toe to hair. I just wonder why Mahathma Gandhi is always painted in Silver ? Can't he show up with normal skin or is it do with the title Mahathma?
From Car festivals
Next 2 days I was visiting Manjeshwar a town in Kerala pretty close to Mangalore. The rituals followed here are similar most of the other temples in that car festival spread over seven days. In all the temples there will be community meals(prasadam) served on banana leaf and I enjoy them for the curries made out coconut gravy. After the meal there was palanquin procession at night which ends with a symbolic war on evil spirits by shooting arrows with a silver bow. Each of the processions is accompanied with magnificent fire works illuminating sky in the night. Eating joints are integral part of the festivities and were open through out the night. Eating hot pakodas in the cold winter nights has its own kind of kick!
Next day was the car festival day and there was huge gathering of the crowds. After the car festival I went roaming around, it just reminded me of Mark Shand's description of Sonepur Mela(Indian Journeys edited by Dom Moraes), though there were no cattle to be sold rest all was there. You could find astrologers, mini lotteries, fancy item shops and eateries. These were mini Sonepur or Pushkar Melas.
Next day it was back to Udupi and then to Bangalore.