Now Karaga festival, symbol of Hindu-Muslim harmony, targeted in K’taka
Bengaluru: Controversy simmers over historic Karaga festival celebrated in Bengaluru, seen as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim harmony, as Hindu organizations step up campaign to end 300-year-old ritual of Karaga procession visiting a dargah . However, Karnataka police issued a strict warning to Hindu groups on Friday that any attempt to disrupt the Karaga festivities would be dealt with without mercy.
The Karaga festivities will begin on Friday evening. Muslim religious leaders have already visited the temple in this regard and according to tradition invited the procession from Karaga to arrive at Mastaan Saab Dargah for worship.
The Center Deputy Commissioner of Police, MN Anuchet, said on Friday that the festivities will take place in accordance with the decision of the Utsava Temple (Festivities) Committee. If anyone tries to disturb or engages in any activity to cause a disturbance, strict action will be taken against them.
He said that to ensure the peaceful conduct of the Karaga festival, CCTV cameras have been installed, 450 police officers will be deployed and 38 senior officers will monitor the police arrangements. A call will be taken to increase the number of police depending on the situation.
Karaga Utsava committee chairman Sathish has reiterated his position that there will be no change in the Karaga festival rituals and there is no talk of abandoning the ritual of visiting the dargah of a Sufi saint .
Hindu activists have stepped up their online campaign to ensure the motorcade is not taken to the dargah. They wondered why the Karaga procession should go to a dargah?
Rishi Kumar, Swami of Kali Math, said that the dargah where the Karaga procession goes was originally a temple. Karaga festivities have a history of thousands of years. Before the dargah was built here, it was the temple of Bheemalingeswara. He said there was plenty of evidence in the dargah to prove that it was an earlier Hindu temple.
The Karaga festival takes place at the Shri Dharmarayaswamy temple in Bengaluru and is celebrated for 9 days. Just after dusk on Karaga Day, a priest dressed in female attire leads a colorful procession. Hundreds of members of the thigalars, a community of warriors, including children will take part in the procession brandishing swords. Women and worshipers carry earthen pots on their heads.
The priest carries a pyramid adorned with flowers and leads the procession which visits the tomb of an 18th century Muslim saint at the Mastaan Saab dargah. The Karaga festival is celebrated every year to mark the return of Draupadi in the form of Adishakthi.
The priest wearing the Karaga, the symbol of Adishakthi, will perform three rounds of pradakshina (the clockwise rite of circumambulation) inside the dargah. Members of the Muslim community will worship the deity Karaga. People of all castes participate in the festivities.
For the past two years, the Karaga festivities have been a low-key affair due to the corona pandemic. However, this year, amid the hijab and halal row and a host of other disturbing developments in the state, Bengaluru, known as the IT-BT business capital of the world, is eagerly awaiting the festival which symbolizes community harmony and peace.