First of all, whats so special about festivals? why do we always look foreword for festivals? They are repeated every year, no big changes in the way they are done, same food, same type of cloths, same weather, same traditions… basically everything remains the same except we grow old by another year. But why are we so anxious about festivals? What make us to visit again and again?
Before that, little history on “Puttur Bedi”. Puttur is a small town which is located about 50 Kms from city named Mangalore in Karnataka State, India. “Bedi” means firecracker in local “tulu” language. Puttur has one of the very important landmark, that is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, called “Mahalingeshwara Temple“. Basically one big temple for whole of town of Puttur. Temple built in 8 Century AD and has undergone massive face-lift two years back and is situated in the center of the town.
Festival in the temple go for 10 days and always on fixed date(7th April – 18th April), the last day is dedicated for “Rathotsav” (A ritual where God’s idol is placed on Ratha (Car or a Buggy) and pulled by devotees for a short ride. It is said that this is done to make the God happy atleast once a year. Amazing thing is, thousands of years of old culture and rituals still followed and witnessed today. Well that’s what makes these festivals worth watching as they are like time machines, you are witnessing the great past in a front of your eyes!
Puttur is my fathers native place, naturally I am hooked on to the festival right from very young age. I make a point to be here every year.
Festival: Main attraction of the festival is, Divine Spirits called “Dandanayaka” (General of Armed Forces) and “Ullalthi” (A lady who knows) arrival to the temple and meeting with Lord Shiva, then accompanying Shiva on the further festivities.
So my story starts with arrival of Dandanayaka and Ullalthi at the outskirts of the town.
Finally arrival of the Divine Spirits, note even though Ullalthi is a lady, still its performed by male artists. The performers are typically priests with intense dedication, fitness and expertise, they follow very strict rules and customs in order to become such performers. A common man can not be a spirit performer.
Finally meeting of Lord Shiva, Dandanayaka and the Ullalthi, this is one of the highlights of the whole 10 days of festival and people wait in the premises of the temple over three hours so that they can witness the highly spirited event. This is a action packed event as spirits in full glory and vigour. Also note that Lord Shiva is always associated with lots of powerful spirits.
Fair Ground: Just like any other festival, there are lot of things to do. Hundreds on shops sell so many variety of stuff. You can see teenage girls hovering around the fashion accessories, parents buying cloths, toys for their young ones and essential household stuff. Lot of variety food to choose from, Bhel Puri to ice-creams all are there for hungry! There is no limit of fun activities, such as giant wheels and joy rides for almost any age groups. Basically there is something for everyone!
Finally a climax for the event, spectacular fireworks lasting about one hour with lots of variety of fire show and final thunderous set of non stop fire cracking, followed by the Rathothsav or Ratha Yathre where idol of God placed inside a massive Ratha and pulled by devotees across the fair ground.
“Puttur Bedi” or Fireworks of Puttur is considered one of the greatest firework shows in India.
As the Rathothsav comes to an end, next activity is ride for Lord Shiva throughout the local town area. As the Ratha cant be taken into interiors of the town, the idol of Lord Shiva is carried by the priest in a grand ceremonial band visiting each and every dwelling. Again greeted by households for a final wish and the blessings. The ten days of festivities come to an end here.
Hope I am able to showcase one of the most sought event of the year for me. Its more than just the devotion and prayers, its the experience and value of being there. Being part of routines and rituals which is carried out for centuries is a priceless experience. Its not about beliefs or religion but its about the nostalgia of being there!
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