Thursday, October 19, 2006

A festival of accountability, sacrifice and thanksgiving

Several centuries back, according to the history of the place Dharmadaivas came to Kuduma Nelyadi Beedu, the official residence of the then Heggades. The Dharma Daivas demanded that the house be vacated by the Heggades in their favour and continue conducting charity and Dharma. The place of the Heggades became the temple of the Dharmadaivas. A little while later Lord Manjunatha Swamy was installed in Dharmasthala. Regular rituals (Nema) were being conducted for the Dharmadaivas at the Badinade hills. The Nelyadi beedu continues to be the most sacred place of the Dharmadaivas. Even though the Heggades do not stay in Nelyadi Beedu they get inspiration from here. The guiding spirits, the Dharma Daivas, on the Heggade that the receipts of the temple shall not be stored spent for the welfare of the needy and the poor. The Heggades of Dharmasthala have steadfastedly followed the instructions of the Dharma Daivas.

During Maha Nadavali festivities 'Nema for Dharmadaivas will be conducted at the specially erected mantap in front of the Nelyadi Beedu. The Nema is a dialogue between the Heggade and the person representing the Dharma Daivas.

Thambila and Nema are two of the unique programmes conducted at Dharmasthala among the other religious rituals. On the Sankramana day of every month of Hindu calendar the Heggade visits the Badinade hills close to Manjunatha Swamy Temple after dusk and dialogue with the Dharma Daivas. Popularly known as "Nudigattu", this dialogue is conducted with the Darshana Pathri possessed by the saintly spirits of Dharma Daivas and Annappa Swamy. Throughout this dialogue the spirits seek accountability and performance guarantee. They assure and cajole the Heggade for a more committed performance. This dialogue is in itself an exclusive lesson in the management schools. Although the Heggade does not speak, he responds through the sign language and gets blessed by the Daivas.

Maha Nadavali is the most important festival conducted in Dharmasthala to seek the blessings of Lord Manjunatha Swamy, Lord Chandranatha Swamy, Dharma Daivas and Annappa Swamy for the welfare of the society. It is the highest and greatest of all the festivities conducted in Dharmasthala. As the name suggests, in Maha Nadavali, all the festivals conducted during the year are synchronized to be celebrated in 11 days. Although Maha Nadavali is supposed to be conducted once in twelve years, depending on the star constellations, the programme may be conducted once in two to three decades. The Maha Nadavali festival been conducted in 1886, 1909, 1951 and recently in 2005 which is still being remembered by the devotees.

The Maha Nadavali festival starts with Moodappa offerings to Maha Ganapathi and gets underway with the Laksha Deepothsava festivities to the Lord Manjunatha. In the five of Laksha Deepothsava festival, the idol of the Lord is taken to different centres of Dharmasthala and offerings are made. On the sixth day the ornament ridden treasury of the Dharma Daivas is taken to Nelyadi Beedu. For the next four days the Nema and Thambila normally conducted at the Annappa hills will be conducted at the Nelyadi Beedu. During these days, the Dharma Daivas and Annappa Swamy will call on the beedu and have a dialogue with the Heggade through the Darshana Pathri. Normally women and children prohibited to climb up the Annappa Hills and watch the Nema. It is a rare opportunity for them to witness the Nema during the Maha Nadavali at the Nelyadi Beedu.

On all these days feasts are organised to the devotees visiting Dharmasthala. Religious discourses, cultural programmes and exhibitions are conducted for the visiting devotees.
In this fine example of community feeding during Maha Nadavali, the ordinary people and the farmers make their own offerings to the Lord in the form of cereals, vegetables, coconut and arecanut as a part of their contribution for Maha Nadavali. Called as the "Hasiruvani-Hore Kanike" these offerings will in their own way try to strengthen the hands of the Heggade in conducting the Maha Nadavali festival.

The entire Dharmasthala village will be decked up as a bride for the festival. On either side of the car street thousands of devotees gather to watch the festivities creating a fantastic atmosphere. Entertainment teams bring in wild exuberance.

The pinnacle of the Maha Nadavali festival is the "Chappara Soore" programme signifying sacrifice at its exquisite best. On this day thousands of daily use commodities are displayed in front of the Chandranatha Swamy Temple. At the stipulated time, the public are let free to loot the items. Thus allowing people to choose and carry the items of their choice, other than the organised charity of Dharmasthala.


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