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Posted at: Oct 15, 2017, 2:44 AM; last updated: Oct 15, 2017, 2:44 AM (IST)

Groundnuts to appease the Lord

Kadlekai Parshe, the harvest festival of Karnataka, is steeped in tradition
Groundnuts to appease the Lord
For faith’s sake: Thousands of farmers visit the bull temple to offer their first groundnut crop Photo by the writer

Rashmi Gopal Rao

As the euphoria, lights and colours of Diwali settle down, the silicon city of India aka Bangalore, gets set for yet another celebration, albeit of a different kind. It is the annual Kadlekai Parshe that happens on the city’s well-known bull temple road in Basavanagudi located in South Bangalore. Translating into “groundnut festival”, this unique harvest festival is held on the last Monday of the Hindu month of Karthika.

Centuries ago, the area of Basavanagudi, an old yet upmarket area of the city, was essentially farm land where groundnut was cultivated in abundance. Legend has it that every full moon day a bull would attack and ravage the groundnut fields and damage the crop. The farmers then offered prayers to the big bull (Nandi) or ‘Dodda Basava’ to stop this and pledged to offer their first crop every year to the lord. 

The big bull or Dodda Basava temple, is one that dates back to the 16th century and is renowned for the statue of the Nandi that is a whopping 15 feet tall. Touted as one of the largest statues of Nandi in the world, the temple is one of the best-known landmarks of the city. “Basavanagudi” translates into bull temple in Kannada.

While the city has grown by leaps and bounds and is today the epitome of urbanisation, this tradition, however, has continued for centuries and farmers congregate on the bull temple road. The celebration becomes bigger each year with farmers not only from the nearby villages of Kolar, Nelamangala, Magadi, etc. in Karnataka but also those from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu bringing in their produce. Nearly 1,000 farmers attended the festival last year.

There is a customary pooja and offering of the harvest to the temple after which it is laid out on the street, which is closed for vehicular traffic. Groundnuts are sold plain, roasted and even boiled. Apart from the mounds of groundnut, there is puffed rice, snacks, traditional toys, aretefacts, trinkets, household items and a host of other things. Colourful balloons, sweet meats, porcelain and glass knick knacks are available in plenty. There are several play rides for children and the ambience is akin to a joyful celebration.

Preparations, these days, start in advance with farmers setting up their make shift ‘shops’ on the street as early as a week in advance. Closer to the Monday, the frenzy builds up with crowds swelling up to visit the fair. With footfalls close to a lakh, one needs to be mindful of the jostling crowds. While farmers come in year on year, the picture is not as rosy as most of them spend a substantial amount on transport to reach the venue apart from facing the risks of bad crops and huge investments. Yet, the undying faith in tradition brings in the promise of hope and a better tomorrow.

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