Vasantha Maasa ( falls in March-April) , the first month of Hindu year brings thousands of annual rural festivals . An ancient style rituals of worshipping earth, sun, nature , water can be seen even today in the villages of India. Every festival , ritual or observance changes its dimensions with place. Peoples, fairs, market ,shops, street shows and some unique rituals are the features of these festival. Couple of visit and a little observation would reveal that every festival is deeply associated with elements of nature which imitate human practices of stone age era. These practices range from being fun, soft to brutal, inhuman to an extent normal people would fear to imagine. Bandi festivals are one of such thousands of observances found in Karnataka .
Bandi festivals are only seen in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka state and even today they are one of the biggest events in the district. The whole festival is about worshipping Earth as god ( Bhumi Taayi) and the whole festival is headed by Gunuga community of Uttara Kannada but well assisted by all other communities such as Gowda, Brahmana highlighting the communal balance in the early societies.
Mr. D . V . Gunuga of Kumta who is a retired now as bank manager says ” you have to come and see these events. Though all Bandi festivals are similar , some rituals differ with places. And some rituals are performed only in unique places ” he has a great collection of published articles from local newspapers and magazines and even today he continues to do that.
” this festival is important for every one . Every caste in the village have their role cut out and they do their part every year. Some families in the village performed some rituals from generations. Everyone is important here . This shows the strong bond that used be in the society and its caste systems once contrary to current situation of castism in India. ” says Mr Gunuga.
Fire walking, farmers circling the temple with their cattle,rolling ritual , ladies circling the temple with Oil lamps , Tiger dance are the main highlights of the festival. Main priest here are Gunugas who carry gods decorated on their head and they get in to a trance where one can witness a great power inside them. Many say the people who carry decorated God’s idols weight multiplies and they can do anything as God directs them. Thousand watch with full of fear and devotion.
Mr. N S Bhat of Kumta who is a retired Kannada professor remembers his childhood days of Bandi festivals . He says 15-20 carts of woods are used to make fire for the firewalking events. People used to firewalk for more than 100 meters of burning fire without their feet get burnt such is the devotion of the people once. I shot these photos in Talageri ( Kumta) Bandi festival so thankful those who supported me there .
Coming Bandi Fetivals : May 3rd 2012- Kumta Bandi habba
May 5th , 6th and 7 th Baggon , Kumta
May 7th , 8th and 9th Ankola , Kumta
Please confirm the dates first if you want to visit these .
In the coming years I want to visit more and more of these festivals and document it visually with supporting information on the rituals and practices that are performed. Thanks to those who gave me valuable information. If anyone has a good information please do reply under comments section and I would love to add to the information.