Chennai and Tamil Nadu
Thus spake Mylara
The Mylara Lingeshwara Karnikotsava draws huge crowds every year
FOLK BELIEF The goravas at Mylaralingeshwara jatre in their traditional attire
“Huttida kanda kashtapattitale, Parakh!” (the new born will face difficulties) uttered the Gorava at the annual Karnikotsava (the prophecy) during the Mylara Lingeshwara jatre that concluded at Mylara in Hadagali taluk, Bellary district. To watch this spectacular religious event, an annual feature from times immemorial, over five lakh people, from not only in the district but also from outside, had gathered to listen to the “karnika” (prophecy). It is believed that the saying would indicate the future of the coming year.
The “gorava” followers of Mylara Lingeshwara (one of the forms of Shiva) wearing the traditional dress will be on fast for 11 days during the jatre before pronouncement on the tenth day. It is amazing to note that when the gorava says “saddu” (silence) there is pin drop silence and the entire gathering eager to listen to his foretelling.
Mylara jatre is the biggest fair in northern Karnataka, and is celebrated every year at the local temple dedicated to Shiva in his form as Mailari, the diety of Kuruba community. Mylara is in the extreme south-western corner of Hadagali taluk in Bellary district, situated two km from the Tungabhadra river and 40 km from Hadagali town. This year it started on February 13. The “goravas”, a community that has taken a vow to dress themselves up in “blankets” made out of woolen blankets, and sporting the “bhandar” on their foreheads and holding the “damaroo” in their hands, are seen moving shouting “elukoti, elukoti”. (seven crores). The three other sects of “goravas” are the Kudure goravas performing “chaati (whip) seve”, Deevatige goravas holding the traditional torch and Chamara goravas mostly women with fans in their hands.
According to the legend, demon Mallasura and his brother, having performed a severe penance extracted from Brahma a promise that they should never be harmed by any human being, began to harass the “rishis” (sages). On an appeal from the rishis to protect them, Shiva took on a new form and taking with him his forces to the number of “seven crores” (goravas), warred with the “asura” and his brother for ten days and slew them both with his bow.
On that particular day, by afternoon, a huge wooden bow, about ten feet long, symbolic of that with which Shiva slew Mallasura, is brought and placed in the middle of a vast area called “Denkana maradi”. At around 5.15 p.m., the “gorava” is carried from his tent. He climbs up the bow.
For a while, he stares in the four directions and then begins trembling as a sign of divine inspiration and the pilgrims wait for his prophecy. He gazes skywards, before pronouncing the annual divination. Soon after this he drops down and the devotees duly hold him. This, in fact, is something that is recorded in the district gazette. Another notable feature of the event is that the saying is recorded in the district gazette every year.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu